The Lord hath sworne, and will not Repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the Order of Melchi∣sedeck.
FRom the Regall Office of Christ, and the Administra∣tion thereof by the Scepter of his Word and Spirit to the conquering of a willing people unto himselfe; the Prophet now passeth to his sacerdo∣tall office; the vigor and me∣rit whereof is by the two former applied unto the Church. Therefore wee may observe that though the tribes were interdicted confu∣sion with one another in their marriages, Num. 36.7.* Yet the Regall and Leviticall Tribes might interchange, and mingle blouds; to intimate (as I conceive) that the Messiah, with relation unto whose lineage that confu∣sion was avoided, was to bee both a King and a Priest. Thus wee finde Iehoiada, the Priest married IehoshabeathPage 384 the Daughter of King Iehoram, 2 Chron. 22.11. And Aaron of the Tribe of Levi tooke Elish•ba the Daughter of Amminadab,* who was of the tribe of Iuda, Exod. 6.23. Numb. 1.7. In which respect I suppose Mary and Elizabeth the Wife of Zatharie the Priest, are called Cousins, Luk. 1.36. In the Law indeed these two Of∣fices were distinct. Our Lord, saith the Apostle, sprang out of the Tribe of Iuda, of which Tribe Moses spake nothing concerning Priesthood, Heb. 7.14. And there∣fore when King Vzziah incroached on the Priests Of∣fice, hee was smitten with a Leprosie, 2 Chron. 26.18, 21. But amongst the Gentiles (a amongst whom Mel∣chizedek is thought to have beene a Priest,) it b was usuall for the same person to have been both King and Priest.
The words containe the Doctrine of Christs Priest∣hood. The Quality of it, Eternall. The Order, not of Aaron, but of Melchizedek. The foundation of both, Gods immutable decree and counsell; hee cannot repent of it, because hee hath confirmed it by an Oath. I shall handle the words in the Order as they lie.
The Lord hath sworne] Here two things are to bee enquired: First, how God is said to sweare? Secondly, why hee swears in this particular case of Christs Priest∣hood? The former of these the Apostle resolves in one word, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Heb. 6.17. Hee interposed in or by an oath, namely himselfe, for that is to bee supplied out of the thirteenth verse, where it is said that bee sware by himselfe. So elsewhere it is said that he sware by the excel∣lency of Iacob, that is, by himselfe, Amos 220.127.116.11. By my selfe have I sworne, saith the Lord, that in blessing I will blesse thee, Gen. 22.16. The meaning is, that God should denie himselfe, (which hee cannot doe, 2 Tim. 2.13.) and should cease to bee God, if the word which hee hath sworne should not come to passe. So that usuall forme, as I live, is to be understood, let me not be esteemed a living Page 385 God, if my word come not to passe; so elsewhere the Lord interposeth his holinesse, I have sworne by my Ho∣linesse that I will not lie unto David, Psal. 89.35. As im∣possible for him to breake his word as to bee unholy.
For the second question,* why God swears in this par∣ticular? I answer: First, and principally, to shew 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, The immutable and irreversible certainty of what hee speakes, Heb. 6.17. I have sworne by my selfe, the word is gone out of my mouth, and it shall not returne, &c. Esai. 45.23. Thus wee finde God confir∣ming the unmoveablenesse of his covenant by an Oath, Esai. 54.9, 10. Psal. 89.34, 35. When the Lord doth onely say a thing (though his word bee as certaine in it selfe as his oath, for it is as impossible for him to lie as to forsweare himselfe) yet there is an implicite kinde of re∣servation for the altering, revoking, or reversing that word by some subsequent declaration. As in the cove∣nant and Priesthood of Aaron though God made it for a perpetuall ordinance, yet there was after a change of it, for the weaknesse and unprofitablenesse thereof. So when the Lord sent Ionah to preach destruction unto Ninive within fortie dayes, though the Denuntiation came not to passe, yet was it not any false message, be∣cause it was made reversible upon an implicite condition, which condition the Lord is pleased sometimes in mercy to conceale, that men may bee the sooner frighted out of their security, upon the apprehension of so approching a danger. At what time, saith the Lord, I shall speake concer∣ning a Nation, and concerning a Kingdome, to pluck up, and to pull downe, and to destroy: If that Nation against whom I have pronounced turne from their evill, I will re∣pent of the evill that I thought to doe unto them, Ier. 18.7, 8. But when the Lord sweares any absolute Act, or promise of his owne (for the Revocation whereof there can no other ground de novo arise, than was extant at the time of making it, and yet was no barre nor hinde∣rance Page 386 unto it, namely the sinne of man) he then by that oath seales and assures the immutability thereof, to those that rely upon it.
Secondly, it is to commend the excellencie and pree∣minencie of that above other things, which hath this great seale of Heaven, the Oath of God to confirme and establish it. Inasmuch, saith the Apostle, as not without an oath hee was made Priest, by so much was hee made a surety of a better Testament; Heb. 6.20, 22. and this is a consequent of the former; for by how much the more abiding, by so much the more glorious is the Ministery of the Gospell. If that which is done away were glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious, 2 Cor. 3.11. The more solemne and sacred the institution was, the more excellent is the Priesthood. Now this Oath was that Seale of God, by which hee designed and set apart his Sonne for that great Office, in a more solemne man∣ner of ordination than was to others usuall. Him hath God the Father sealed; Iohn 6.27. It was but Hee hath said, unto others, ye are Gods, but it is, He hath sanctified, to his Sonne.*Iohn 10.34▪ 36.
Thirdly, It is to commend Gods great compassion and good will, for the establishing of the hearts of men in comfort and assurance. He therefore confirmed his pro∣mise by an oath, That by two immutable things wherein it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consola∣tion, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope which is set before us. Heb. 6.17, 18. an oath even amongst men is the end of all controversie, the determination and com∣posing of all differences; how much more when hee sets his Seale upon his mercy and covenant should the hearts of men bee secure, and lay fast hold thereon without doubt or scruple? Therefore wee finde the Saints in the Scripture make mention of the Oath of God, for establi∣shing their hearts against feares or dangers. Thou wilt performe the truth to Iaakob, and the mercy to Abraham, Page 387 which thou hast sworne to our fathers from the dayes of old. Micah. 7.20. Thy bow was made quite naked,*accor∣ding to the oathes of the tribes, even thy Word. Hab. 3.9. that is, Thou didst make it appeare to thine enemies that thou didst fight for thy People, and remember thy Word or Covenant of mercy which thou didst sweare unto Abraham the Father of the faithfull, and so oftentimes new ratifie unto his seed, the Tribes which proceeded from him. And this is the ground of all the Churches comfort and stabilitie: for alas, wee every day deserve to have God abrogate his Covenant of mercy with us, but hee is mindefull of the Oath which hee hath sworne. Deut. 7.7, 8.9.5. There was wickednesse enough in the world to have drawne downe another flood after that of Noah, the same reason that caused it, did remaine after it was removed. Genes. 6.12, 13.8.21. But Gods Oath bound him to his mercy, Esay, 54.9. The meaning then of this first Clause is this. The Lord to shew the immu∣tability of his Counsell, the unchangeablenesse of Christs Priesthood, the excellencie of it above the Priesthood of Aaron, the strong consolation which the Saints may there hence receive, hath sealed it by an Oath: so that he is a Priest by a decree which cannot be revoked.
It notes unto us the Solemne call of Christ unto the of∣fice of Priesthood, as before of King. verse 1. He did not usurpe this honour to himselfe as Nadab and Abihu did, when of their owne heads they offered strange fire unto the Lord, nor incroach upon us as Vzziah; but hee was ordained and begotten, and called of God thereunto, after the order of Melchisedech, Heb. 5.5.10. Hee was sancti∣fied and sent, and had a commandement, and a worke set him to doe. Iohn 10.18.36.37. In which respect hee was called a Servant, or a chosen officer formed for a speciall imployment. Esay 18.104.22.168.53.11. Phil. 2.7. here then is the consent of the whole Trinitie unto Christs Priesthood. First, the Fathers consent in his Act of or∣dination: Page 388 for him hath God the Father sealed, Iohn 6.27. Thou art my Sonne, this day have I begotten thee, Heb. 5.5, 6. Secondly, The Sonnes by voluntary susception and vadimonie for mankinde: for he was the Suretie of the Covenant, Heb. 8.22. The Apostle joyneth these two to∣gether, Heb. 10.9, 10. Loe, I come to doe thy Will O God; there was Gods Will and Christs submission thereunto, in which regard he is said to sanctifie himselfe, Iohn 17.19. There was a Covenant betweene God and Christ, Christ was to undertake an office of service and obedience for men, to offer himselfe a sacrifice for sinne, to be made of a woman under the Law, &c. * And for this God was to prolong his dayes, to give him a seed, and a Generati∣on which could not bee numbred, a Kingdome which cannot bee bounded, a portion with the great, and a spoyle with the strong; a Name above every name, to set a joy and a glory before him, after hee should have finish•d his worke, &c. Thirdly, here is the consent of the Holy Ghost which did hereunto anoint him, which came along with him, which formed him in the wombe of the Virgin, and descended upon him in his solemne susception of this office in Iohns Baptisme, by which Spirit he was consecrated, warranted and enabled unto this great function, Esay 22.214.171.124. Matth. 3.16, 17. Heb. 1.9.
If then God call Christ unto his Priesthood by a so∣lemne Oath, and make him surety of a better covenant, we ought to take the more especiall notice thereof: for when God sweares he must be heard. The more excel∣lent any thing is, the more earnest hee should bee given unto it: for how shall we escape, saith the Apostle, if wee neglect 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 so great Salvation, so sure a co∣venant, Heb. 2.1, 3.
This is the onely rocke on which we may cast anchor in any trouble, doubt, or feare of Spirit. It is not our owne will or strength that holds us up from ruine, but Page 389onely Gods Oath, by which Christ is made a Priest, Able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. Saint Paul and his company were in a great tempest, all hope that they should be saved was taken away, Act. 27.20. yet he exhorts them to bee of good cheere, because there should not bee the losse of any mans life amongst them; and the ground hereof was Gods promise, which he beleeved, verse 24, 25. The case is the same with us, we are compassed about with infirmities; with enemies too hard, and with sinnes too heavie for us; with feares and doubting, that we shall lose all againe; how can wee in such tempests of Spirit be cheered, but onely by casting anchor upon Gods covenant which is established by an oath? by learning to hope above hope, Rom. 4. 18. to be strong in him when we are weake in our selves? to bee faithfull in him when wee are fearefull in our selves? to be stedfast in him when we stagger in our selves? in the midst of Satans buffets and our owne corruptions to finde a sufficiencie in his Grace, able to answer and to ward off all? 2 Cor. 12.10. To catch hold of his covenant and to flie to the hope that is set before us, as to the on∣ly refuge and sanctuary of a pursued soule, when wee are not able to stand by our selves? Esay 56.6. Heb. 6.18. It is hard very thing when a man hath a distinct view of his filthinesse and guilt, by reason of time, not to give over himselfe and his salvation as desparate things. It is nothing but ignorance and insensibilitie which makes men presume of the pardon of sinne. In this case then we must consider Gods Oath and Covenant with his people. First, not to reject them for their sinnes. Israel hath not beene forsaken, nor Iudah of his God, though their land was filled with sinne against the holy One of Israel, Ier. 51.5. My People are bent unto backsliding, &c. and yet I will not execute the fiercenesse of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim, For I am God, and not Man, &c. Hos. 11.7, 9.
Page 390Secondly, not alwayes to suffer them to lie under sin, but in due time to heale their backeslidings, Hos. 14.4. he will not onely remove our transgressions from himselfe, but he will remove them from us too, and that so farre, as that it shall be as possible for the East and West to meet together, as for a man and his sin, Psal. 103.12. Though we have made him to serve with our sinnes, and weari∣ed him with our iniquities, yet Hee will not remember a∣gainst us our sinnes past, Esay 43.25. neither will hee see against us the sinnes which remaine, Numb. 23.11. These he will forgive, and these he will subdue, and all this be∣cause of his Truth unto Iacob and his mercy unto Abra∣ham, which he sware unto our fathers from the dayes of old, Micah. 7.18, 19.20. Hee hath given us ground for both our feete to stand upon, and hold fast for both our hands to cleave unto: A Promise, and an Oath, that by two immutable things, wee might have strong consola∣tion, Heb. 6.18. So the Apostle saith, that all the promi∣ses of God in Christ are yea and amen: yea, to note their Truth; and amen, to note their certainty and stability, being confirmed by the Oath of Christ. For so that word may be conceived, either * as an Oath, or at least * as a very strong and confident affirmation which is equivalent unto an oath, 2 Cor. 1.20. except happily we will under∣stand 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to bee the same thing expressed in se∣verall tongues; as Abba Pater, in other places thereby noting not onely the stabilitie but the universalitie of Gods promises.
Many things there are in this call of Christ unto his Office to confirme this consolation, and upon which the troubled soule may cast Anker
First, from the Father he hath received a command and call unto thy service, and so as a Servant he hath fidelity; for God choseth none but faithfull servants. Hee was an Apostle and high Priest sent to preach the Will, and to pacifie the wrath of God, and he was faithfull to him Page 391 that appointed him, as Moses was, Heb. 3.11.2. And if he be faithfull we may trust him, for he will doe the worke which is given him to doe. Faithfull is he that calleth you who also will doe it, 1 Thes. 5.24.
Secondly, from himselfe there is a voluntarie submissi∣on, whereby he gives himselfe for his Church, and layes downe his owne life, Eph. 5.25. Tit. 2.14. Ioh. 10.11. for being of himselfe equall with the Father, he could not be by him commanded, ordained, or overruled to any ser∣vice, without a voluntary concurring to the same decree; emptying himselfe, and taking on him the forme of a ser∣vant, making himselfe lesse than his Father, and in some sort for a while lower than the Angels,* that so he might be commanded. So that besides his fidelitie to rest on as a servant, here is his especiall mercy as a concurring agent in the decree, whereby he was ordained unto this office: He is not onely a Faithfull, but a mercifull high Priest, to make reconciliation for the sinnes of men, Heb. 2.17. But a man may both by his Fidelitie as a servant, and by his Mercy, as having the same tender compassion with him that sent him, be willing to helpe another out of mi∣sery, and yet may not be able to effect his owne desires for want of Power. And therefore,
Thirdly, by the Vnction of the holy Spirit, who pro∣ceedeth from the Father and himselfe; hee is said to bee sanctified by the Father, Iohn 10.36. and to sanctifie him∣selfe, Iohn 17.19. To have received power and authority from his Father, Matth. 28.18. Iohn 5.27. Iohn 17.2. and to have power likewise within himselfe, Iohn 10.18. That spirit, which for the discharge of this office hee brought with him in fulnesse, and unto all purposes of that service into the world, is a Spirit of Power, 2 Tim. 1.7. whereby he is enabled perfectly to save all commers, Heb. 7.25. so that unto his Fidelity and Mercy, here is added Abilitie likewise.
Fourthly, as he received an office and a service, so hee Page 392 received a Promise from his father likewise which did much encourage him in this service. And this promise is twofold. First, the promise of a great seed which by the execution of his office hee should gather unto himselfe, and of a great conquest over all his enemies. God con∣ferred this ho•our upon him to be the King of a mighty People, whom he should save and sanctifie to himselfe: They were given unto him, Psal. 2.8. Iohn 17.6. so that unto his Fidelitie, Mercie and Power; here is further ad∣ded a Propriety to the thing which hee saves: and who would not use all fidelitie in his owne businesse, all mer∣cy towards his owne seed, all the power he hath to de∣liver his owne House from the fire? and Christ was faith∣full, as a Sonne over his owne house, whose house are wee: Heb. 3.6. Secondly, there was the promise of a great Glo∣ry and Crowne which the nature he had assumed should in his Person receive after the fulfilling of his Service. After he had beene a little while lower than the Angels, hee was to bee crowned with Glory and Honour, Heb. 2.7. and therefore we may bee sure that hee hath fulfilled all righteousnesse, and done for his Church all which hee was to doe upon the Earth; because hee is gone, and wee see him no more: for his sufferings were to goe before, and his glory to follow: 1 Pet. 1.11. This is the Apo∣stles argument why we are not in our sinnes, but delive∣red from them, because Christ is risen, 1 Cor. 15.17. Who is he that condemneth, it is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen againe, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us? Rom. 8.34. And it is his argument againe, why wee ought to hold fast our profession, and to come boldly to the Throne of Grace for help in time of neede, because wee have a great high Priest that is passed into the Heavens, Heb. 4.14, 15, 16.
Fifthly, as hee had a Promise from the Father to en∣courage him, so he had a Nature from us to incline him Page 393 unto the execution of his Office. He was made of a wo∣man, made like unto us in all things, sinne onely excep∣ted, tempted and afflicted as we are: and so there are two things which the heart of a beleever may rest upon in him in any discomforts. First, his Sympathie, for besides his Essentiall mercy as he is God, there was in him a mer∣cie which he learned by being like unto us. In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that hee might be a mercifull and a faithfull high Priest, Heb. 2.17. Such was his compassion towards the hunger of the multitude, Matth. 15.32. because hee himselfe knew what hunger was, Matth. 4.2. and such was his com∣passion towards the sorrowes of Mary and Martha, Iohn 11.33, 35. because he himselfe was acquainted with griefe, Esay, 53.3. and such was his compassion towards Peter in that state of desertion wherein he lay, Luke 22.61. because he himselfe knew what it was to be forsaken, Matth. 27.46. And this is the Apostles assurance that we shall obtaine mercy and grace to helpe in time of neede; because hee had a feeling of our infirmities, and was tempted, as wee are, Heb. 4.15, 16. Secondly, His consanguinitie, He is not ashamed to call us brethren: He is our Goel, our Kinsman, and therefore our Redeemer: Heb. 11. Ruth. 126.96.36.199.
And will not repent.] Many things God hath said, which hee hath revoked, as the destruction of Ninive; the death of Ezekiah, and the like; which implying a tacite condition, fit in the particular cases to be conceal'd upon the varieties of that, God might bee said either to persevere, or to repent; Ier. 18.7, 8.26.13, 19. God is ever most unchangeable in all his wayes, counsels and purposes, they stand for ever. Nothing can fall out to make God more wise, more mercifull, more provident, more powerfull than hee was before, and therefore no∣thing can make him truely to change his will, or to re∣pent of his former actions or resolutions. There is with Page 394 him no variablenesse nor shadow of changing: He is not a man that hee should repent. I the Lord change not: Iam. 1.17. 1 Sam. 15.29. Mal. 3.6. Only in mercy unto a our weaknesse God condescends unto the manner of hu∣mane expressions, retaining still the stedfastnesse of his owne working, which receiveth no variation nor diffe∣rence from the contingencies of second causes. He spea∣keth according to our capacitie, but he worketh accor∣ding to his owne counsell, so that God is then said to re∣pent, when that which he once willed to be, hee after by the counsell of the same will, causeth not to be; therein not changing his owne counsell, but onely willing the change of the things,b that the same thing for this period of time shall be, and then shall cease. As when a rope is fixed to either side of a River, by the same without any manner change or alteration in it, I draw the boate wherein I am, backward or forward: so the same will and counsell of God stands constant and unmoved in the severall mu∣tations of those things which are wrought or removed by it.
Now then, when not onely the counsell of God is immutable in it selfe, but also hee hath ordained some Law, Covenant or Office, which hee will have for ever to endure, without either naturall expiration, or exter∣nall abolishment, then is God said not to repent. To ap∣ply this to the present businesse; the Apostle speaking of a new covenant which is established upon this new Priesthood of Christ (for the Priesthoods and the Lawes goe both together, the one being changed, there is made of necessitie a change of the other; Heb. 7.12.) maketh the introducing of this new Covenant, which is founded upon the Oath of God, to make the preceding covenant old and transitory: In that hee saith, A new Covenant, he hath made the first old: Now that which decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away, Heb. 8.13. And hee saith peremptorily that it was therefore disannul'd, be∣cause Page 395 of the weakenesse and unprofitablenesse thereof: Heb. 7.18. and this he affirmeth even of the morall Law; that law, the righteousnesse whereof was to be fulfilled in us by the Spirit of Christ, (namely in sincerity and in love, which is the bond of perfection, and the fulfilling of the Law) Rom. 8.3, 4. For the full understanding then and applying the words to the priesthood of Christ, and the Law of Grace, or the second covenant thereupon grounded, it will be needfull to resolve these two questi∣ons. First, whether God hath repented him of the Law, which was the rule and measure of the Covenant of workes? Secondly, upon what reasons or grounds the immutabilitie of the second Covenant or Law of grace standeth?
For the first of these, the Psalmist telleth us, that the Commandements of God are sure, and that they stand fast for ever and ever, Psal. 111.7, 8. and wee may note that the same forme of speech which the Lord useth to shew the stability of the new covenant; The Mountaines shall depart, and the Hils bee removed, but my kindnesse shall not depart from thee, neither shall the Covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee, Esay, 54.10. the same kinde of forme doth our Saviour use to expresse the stability of the Law; It is easier for Heaven and Earth to passe, than for one tittle of the Law to faile; Luk. 16.17. Now the Law hath a twofold Ob∣ligation; the one principall which is to Obedience, wher∣unto is annexed a promise of righteousnesse or justifica∣tion: the other secondary and conditionall, which is unto malediction, upon supposall of disobedience. For, cursed is every one which continueth not in all things which are written in the Booke of the Law to doe them, Gal. 3.10. Now if no tittle of the Law must faile, then neither of these two must faile, but bee both fulfilled, and then it should seeme that the first Covenant is not removed not∣withstanding the weaknesse thereof.
Page 396For resolving hereof, wee must note that in point of validity or invalidity,* there can but five things be said of the Law: for first, either it must be obeyed, and that it is not, for all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God, Rom. 3.23. Or secondly, it must be executed upon men, and the curse or penaltie thereof inflicted; and that it is not neither, for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, Rom. 8.1. Or thirdly, it must be abrogated, or extinguished; and that it is not neither, for Heaven and Earth must sooner passe away. If there were no Law, there would be no sinne, for sinne is the transgression of the Law; and if there were no Law, there would be no judgement; for the world must be judged by the Law. Or fourthly, it must be moderated and favourably inter∣preted by rules of equity, to abate the rigor and severity thereof; and that cannot bee neither, for it is inflexible, no jot nor tittle of it must be abated. Or lastly, the Law it selfe remaining, the Obligation thereof notwithstan∣ding, must towards such or such persons be so farre forth dispensed withall, as that a surety shall be admitted (up∣on a concurrence of all their wills who are therein inte∣rested; God willing to allow, Christ willing to performe, and Man willing to enjoy:) both to doe all the duties, and to suffer all the curses of the Law, in the behalfe of that Person, who in rigour should himselfe have done and suffered all. So then neither the Law nor any jot or tittle thereof is abrogated, in regard of the Obligations therein contained, but they are all reconciled in Christ with the second covenant. Yet notwithstanding, to the purpose of a covenant or rule of righteousnesse betweene us and God, so he hath repented of it, and removed that office or relation from it, that righteousnes should come to us thereby, by reason of the weaknesse and unprofi∣tablenesse which is in it to that purpose by the sinne of Man: yet thus much the Law hath to doe with justifi∣cation, that the fulfilling of the whole law is thereunto Page 397 ever some way or other presupposed. Onely in the first covenant, we were to doe in our owne persons; in the se∣cond, Christ is appointed and allowed to doe it for us. Hee fulfilled all the Obligations of the Law; the duties thereof by active obedience in his life, and the curses thereof by passive obedience in his death. Now then we by faith becomming one with Christ, the grace of God doth number us up in the same masse and summe with him, and so imputeth and accounteth that ours which was done by him. There is no righteousnesse but doth originally referre and beare proportion to the Law of God, and yet wee are not justified by the Law, but by Grace; because it is the favour of God, contrary to the rigour and exaction of the Law, which alloweth the righteousnesse of the Law by one fulfilled, to be unto ano∣ther accounted. A man is denominated righteous, as a wall may bee esteemed red or greene. Now that comes to passe two manner of wayes, either by the colour inhe∣ring and belonging unto the wall it selfe, or by the same colour in some diaphanous transparent body; as glasse, which by the beame of the Sunne shining on the wall, doth externally affect the same as if it were its owne, and covers that true inherent colour which it hath of it selfe. In like manner by the strict covenant of the Law wee ought to be righteous from a righteousnesse inherent in, and performed by our selves; but in the new covenant of grace we are righteous by the righteousnes of Christ, which shineth upon us, and presenteth us in his colour unto the sight of his Father. Here in both covenants the righteousnesse from whence the denomination groweth is the same (namely the satisfying of the demands of the whole Law) but the manner of our right and propriety thereunto is much varied. In the one we have right unto it by Law, because wee have done it our selves: In the other we have right unto it onely by Grace and favour; because another mans doing of it is bestowed upon us, Page 398 and accounted ours. And this is that gratious covenant of which the Lord here saith, I have sworne and will not repent.
For resolving of the second question, upon what rea∣sons the immutability of the covenant of Grace standeth, we must note that as things are of severall sorts, so accor∣dingly they may bee mutable or immutable severall waies. Some things are absolutely immutable out of the nature of the thing it selfe; and that is, when the ab∣rogation, or alteration of the thing would unavoy∣dably inferre some prodigious consequences and notori∣ous pravity with it, as certaine dishonour to God, and confusion upon other things. As if we should conceive a man free from worshipping, reverencing, acknowledg∣ing, loving or trusting in God; herein the creature would be unsubordinated to the Creator, which would inferre desperate pravitie and disorder, and God should bee robb'd of his essentiall honor which he can no more part from, than cease to bee God. But now it is repugnant to the nature of an entire covenant, to bee in this manner immutable. For in a covenant there is a mutuall stipula∣tion and consent betweene God and Man; and after per∣formance of Mans duty, God maketh promise of be∣stowing a reward. Now there can bee no binding ne∣cessity in God to conferre, nor absolute power in Man to challenge any good from God, who doth freely and by no necessity, good unto his Creatures. Secondly, some things are meerely juris positivi, not of any intrin∣sicall necessity, resulting out of the condition of their na∣ture, such as are free either to bee or not to bee of them∣selves, or when they are free to continue or to cease; not in themselves determined unto any condition of being unvariably belonging unto their nature. And such are all covenants; for God might have dealt with Men, as with lapsed Angels, never have entred a-new into cove∣nant with them: hee might have reserved unto himselfe Page 399 a power of reconciliation and calling in his patent, and shutting up his office of mercy againe. How then comes it that this covenant is immutable, and Christs Priest∣hood of everlasting and unchangeable vigor to all ages and generations of men? That there shall never be ere∣cted in the Church any other forme of Gods worship, or any other instruments of Mans salvation, than those which we now enjoy? The Apostle groundeth it upon two reasons, Heb. 6.17, 18. The Promise and the Oath of God. First, The Promise putteth a right in the creature which he had not before, and that Promise determineth the Will of God to the being; and leave not that in∣different to the being or not being of the Covenant. For it is the foundation of a just claime which wee by faith may make upon the Fidelity, Iustice and Power of God, to make it Good. He is faithfull and just to for∣give us our sinnes; 1 Iohn 1.9. The righteous God shall give unto mee a Crowne of righteousnesse: 2 Tim. 4.8. righteousnesse and justice as well as mercy is the ground of forgivenesse of sinnes and salvation, not in relation or respect to merit in us, but to promise in God. Onely mercy it was which moved him to promise, and having promised onely truth and fidelity and righteousnesse bindeth him to performe. As impossible it is for God to breake any promise, and to lie unto David, as it is to bee an unholy God, or to deny himselfe; Psal. 89.35. 2 Tim. 2.13. 1 Thes. 5.24. Secondly, the Oath of God, for that pawnes his owne Being, Life, Power, Truth, Holinesse, to make good that which he hath so ratified; and upon these two doth the immutability of the second Covenant, and of Christs Priesthood depend.
Here then wee see upon what ground all our comfort and assurance subsisteth; not upon any strength, power, libertie, or inherent grace already received, which wee of our selves are every day apt to waste and be cheated of by Satan and the world, but upon Gods unchange∣able Page 400 mercy and covenant. This was all Davids salvati∣on and desire, all that his heart rested upon, that though his house were not so with God, that is, did faile much of that beautie and puritie which therein God required, and therefore did deserve to be cast off, yet God had made with him an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure, 2 Sam. 23.5. When the conscience is af∣flicted with the sense of sinne, with the feare of its owne slipperinesse and unstedfastnesse in Gods covenant, this is all it hath to support it, That God is one, Galath. 3.19. That Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever, Heb. 13.8. that he is where he ever was, ready to meet those that returne, Esay 64.5. Luke 15.20. If I should doe to men, as I have done to God, they would despise, forsake, revenge themselves on me, I should ne∣ver receive grace nor favour againe. But God is not as man, Hos. 11.9. the whole cause of his compassion is in and from himselfe, and therefore he doth not take the advantage of our failings and exasperations, to alter the course of his dealing towards us, Psalm. 103.8-14. Though we faile every day, yet his compassions faile not, and therefore from his immutable mercy it is that wee are not comsumed, Lam. 3.22. Mal. 3.6. His blessing of an adopted people is an irreversible thing, because he is God and not man, and therefore cannot repent, nor call in the promise which he hath made, for which purpose hee doth not behold iniquitie i• Iacob, nor perversenesse in Israel, Numb. 23.19, 20, 21. If the Sunne should be alwayes immoveably fixed in one place, as it was a lit∣tle while in Ioshua's time at the destruction of the Kings, Iosh. 10.12, 13. though I might shut out the light of the Sunne from me, yet as soone as I remove the curten, the Sunne is still where it was, readie to be found, and to shine upon me. The case were lamentable with us, if so often as man provokes Gods justice, he should presently revoke his mercy; if the issue of our salvation should Page 401 depend upon the frailty and mutability of our owne na∣ture, and our life should be in our owne keeping. If the pure Angels of heaven fell from their created condition, to be most blacke and hideous adversaries of the God that made them; if Adam stood not firme with all that stocke of strength and integrity of will which he had in Paradise: how can I who have so many lusts within, so many enemies without, such armies of feares and temp∣tations round about mee, bee able to resist, and stand? Grace inherent is as mutable in me, as it was in Adam, Satan as malitious and impetuous against me, as against Adam: Propensions to sinne and falling away, strong in me, which were none in Adam; snares as many weak∣nesses more; enemies as many temptations more: from the grace which is deposited in mine own keeping, I can∣not but depart daily, if the Lord should leave me in the hand of mine owne counsell: even as water, though it could be made as hot as fire, yet being left unto it selfe, will quickly reduce and work it selfe to its own originall coldnesse againe. We have grace abiding in our hearts, as we have light in our houses, alwayes by emanation, effusion and supportance from the Sunne of righteous∣nesse which shines upon us. Therefore this is all the com∣fort which a man hath remaining, that though I am wanting to my selfe, and doe often turne from God, yet he is not wanting to mee, nor returnes from me, for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, Rom. 11.29. The heart of the best man is like the wheeles in Eze∣kiels vision, Ezek. 1.16. As mutable, and moveable se∣verall wayes as wheeles, as perplexed, hindered, and di∣stracted in it selfe, as crosse wheeles in one another, grace swaying one way, and flesh another, who can expect stabilitie in such a thing? Surely of it selfe it hath none, but the constancie and uniformitie of motion in the wheeles was this, that they were joyned to the living creatures, who in their motion returned not when they Page 402 went, vers. 17-21. such is the stability of the faithfull in the covenant, they have it not from themselves, for they are all like wheeles, but from him unto whom by the same Spirit of life they are united, who cannot repent, nor returne from the covenant of mercy which he hath made.
Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchi∣sedech] We now come to speake of the Priesthood of Christ it selfe, which is thus sealed and made immutable by the oath of God. Every high Priest, saith the Apo∣stle, is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sinnes, Heb. 5.1. These sacrifices are of two sorts, some Eucharisticall, as testifications of homage, subjection, duty and service, as the dedication of the first fruits, the offerings of Abel and Cain, the meat and drinke offerings, &c. some Ila∣sticall or expiatory, for the washing away of sinnes, for making compensation to the justice of God, which had beene in sinne violated, and to propitiate him againe. So that in this regard a Priest was to be a middle person, by Gods appointment to stand, and to minister betweene him and men in their behalfe, to be impartiall and faith∣full towards the justice and truth of God, and not to be over-ruled by his love to men to injure him, and to be compassionate and merciful towards the errours of men, and not to be over-ruled by his zeale to Gods justice, to give over the care or service of them. And such an High Priest was Christ, zealous of his Fathers righteousnesse and glory, for hee was set forth to declare the righteous∣nesse of God, Rom. 3.25. and he did glorifie him on earth by finishing the things which he had given him to doe, Ioh. 17.4. Compassionate towards the errours and mi∣series of his Church, for hee was appointed to expiate, and to remove them out of the way, Col. 2.14.
Touching this Priest-hood, wee will thus proceed: First, to enquire into the Necessitie we have of such a Page 403 Priest. Secondly, what kinde of Qualifications are re∣quisite in him, who must be unto us such a Priest. Third∣ly, wherein the Acts or Offices of such a Priest-hood doe principally consist. Fourthly, what is the Vertue, fruits, ends, events of such a Priest-hood. Fifthly, what are the Duties which the execution of that office doth en∣force upon us, or what uses wee should make of it. In these five particulars, I conceive, will the substance of most things which pertain unto the Priesthood of Christ be absolved.
For the first of these wee must premise this generall rule, there can be no necessitie of a Priest (in that sense which is most proper and here intended) but betweene a guiltie creature, and a righteous God, for if man were innocent in his relations towards God, hee would stand in no need of an Expiation, and if God were unrighte∣ous in the passages of mans sin, there would not be due unto him any just debt of satisfaction. This being pre∣mised I shall through many steps and gradations bring you to this necessitie of Christs Priest-hood which wee inquire into.
First, every creature is unavoidably subject to the Creator, for he made all things for himselfe, and all is to returne that glory to him for which he made them, Pro. 16.4. Rom. 9.21. And this subjection of the creature to the Creator, doth suppose a debt of service to the will of the Creator. Impossible it is, and utterly repugnant to the quality of a creature not to be subject to some Law, and indebted in some obedience or other to him that made it. Omne esse is propter operari, it is a certaine rule in creatures, that God giveth every creature a Being to this end, that it might put forth that being in some such operations as hee hath fitted it for, and prescribed it to observe. The most excellent of all creatures, that excell in strength, are Ministers to doe his pleasure and to heare his voice, Psal. 103.20, 21. and all the rest have their se∣verall Page 404 lawes, and rules of working by his wisdome set them, in the which they wait upon him, and according unto which they move like Ezekiels wheeles, by the conduct of an invisible Spirit, and by the command of a voyce that is above them, as if they understood the Law of their Creator, and knew the precepts which they doe obey, Ezek. 1.25, 26. Psal. 104.19. No creature is for its selfe onely, or its owne end, for that which hath not its being of its selfe, cannot be an end unto it selfe, in as much as the end of every thing which is made is antece∣dent to the being of it in the minde and intention of him that made it. The end of things is, as a marke, fixed and unmoveable in the purpose of the supreme cause, the creatures as the arrow, ordered by a most wife, and effi∣cacious providence, some through naturall and necessa∣ry, others voluntary and contingent motions unto one and the same generall end, the glory and service of the Creator.
Secondly, no creature is in its being, or in any those operations and services which to God it owes, intrinse∣cally, and of it selfe immutable. It is Gods owne pecu∣liar honour to bee without variablenesse or shadow of changing, Iam. 1.17. Mal. 3.6. There was a time when the Sunne stood still, and moved backward, and was fil∣led with darknesse, as with an internall cloud; when the Lions have forgotten to devoure, and the fire to con∣sume, and the Whales to concoct, God can as he will alter the courses of nature, let goe the reines, and dis∣pence with the rules which himselfe had secretly impo∣sed upon the creatures to observe, which shewes that they are not in themselves immutable. That constancie which in their motions they observe, is from the regular government of that most wise providence which carries them to their end without any turning, Ezek. 1.17. but when his glory requires, and his will commands it, the mountaines tremble, the sea cleaves asunder, the rivers Page 405 runne backe, the earth opens, the Lawes of nature stand still for a while without any execution, as if they were suspended or repeal'd by him that made them: and there∣fore in that place things are said to move by a voice which is above them, namely, by the command of the supreme cause, Ezek. 1.24, 25.
Thirdly, man being in his nature, and formall consti∣tution a reasonable creature, was appointed by God to serve him after a reasonable manner, out of judgement, discretion, and election to make choice of his way above all others, as being most excellent, and beautifull in it selfe, and most convenient and advantageous unto man; therefore our service is called a reasonable service, Rom. 12.1. and David is said to have chosen the way of truth, and the precepts of the Lord, Psal. 119.30. and Moses to have chosen the afflictions of Gods people, and the reproches of Christ, before the pleasures of sinne, or the treasures of Aegypt, Heb. 11.25, 26. And hence it is that Holinesse in the phrase of Scripture is called Iudgement, he shall convince the world of judgement, Ioh. 16.11. and he shall bring forth judgement unto victory, Matth. 12.20. Noting that the Spirit of holinesse ruleth and worketh in the children of obedience by a way of reason and convi∣ction, therefore hee is called a Spirit of Iudgement, Esay 4.4. And for this cause God did not set any over-ruling law, or determinating vertue over the operations of man, as of other creatures, that so he might truely worke out of the conduct of judgement, and election of will.
Fourthly, there is no deviation from a reasonable ser∣vice, or true active obedience, (properly so called) for the obedience of brutes and inanimate creatures (is ra∣ther passive than active) which hath not some intrinsecall pravity in it, and by consequence some fundamentall demerit, or obligation unto punishment; for Guilt is the proper passion of sinne, resultant out of it, and there∣fore inseparable from it. It cannot be that a creature Page 406 should of it selfe, and out of the corruption of its owne reason and judgement, choose to relinquish the service of him to whom it is naturally and unavoidably subject, and by that meanes become altogether unprofitable, abominable, and unfit for the Masters use, and for those holy ends to which it was originally ordered, but it must withall incurre the displeasure, and thereupon provoke the revenge of that righteous Creator, who out of great reasons had put it under such a service.
Fifthly, By all this which hath hitherto beene spoken it appeares, that God is not unjust, but most holy and righteous: First, in making a Law for man to observe, when hee forbade the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evill, to shew that man had no∣thing by personall, immediate, and underived right, but all by donation, and indulgence. Any Law God might justly make, the obedience whereof hee gave the crea∣ture an originall power to performe, by reason of the na∣turall and necessary subjection of the creature unto him. Secondly, in annexing a curse and penalty to the viola∣tion of that Law, which for the declaration of his glo∣rious justice hee might most righteously doe, because of the inevitable demerit, or liablenesse unto censure from the disobedience of that Law resulting. Thirdly, in ma∣king man in such a mutable condition, as in the which he might stand or fall by his owne election, because hee would be obeyed by judgement and free choice, * not by fatall necessitie, or absolute determination.
Sixthly, here then comes in the fall of man, being a wilfull or chosen transgression of a Law, under the pre∣cepts whereof he was most justly created, and unto the malediction wherof he was as necessarily & righteously subject if hee transgressed: for as by being Gods crea∣ture, he was subject to his will, so by being his prisoner, he was as justly subject unto his wrath, and that so much the more, by how much the precept was more just, the Page 407 obedience more easie, the transgression more unreaso∣nable, and the punishment more certaine.
Now by this fall of man there came great mischiefe into the world, and intolerable injury was done by the Creature to him that made him: First, his dominion and authoritie in his holy command was violated. Secondly, his justice, truth, and power in his most righteous threat∣nings were despised. Thirdly, his most pure and perfect Image, wherein man was created in righteousnesse and true holinesse, was utterly defaced. Fourthly, his glo∣ry, which by an active service the creature should have brought unto him, was lost and despoiled. So that now things will not returne to their primitive order and per∣fection againe, till these two things be first effected: First, a Satisfaction of Gods justice: And secondly, a Repara∣tion of mans nature: which two must needs be effected by such a middle and common person, as hath both zeale towards God, that he may be satisfied, and compassion toward man, that he may be repaired; such a person, as having mans guilt and punishment on him translated, may satisfie the justice of God, and, as having a fulnesse of Gods Spirit and holinesse in him, may sanctifie and repaire the nature of man. And this person is the Priest here spoken of by David.
Here the learned frame a kinde of conflict in Gods holy Attributes, and by a libertie which the Holy Ghost from the language of holy Scripture alloweth them, they speake of God after the manner of men, as if he were re∣duced unto some straits and difficulties by the crosse de∣mands of his severall attributes: Justice called upon him for the condemnation of a sinfull, and therefore worthi∣ly accursed creature, which demand was seconded by his truth, to make good that threatning, In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death. Mercy on the other side pleaded for favour and compassion towards man, wofully seduced and overthrowne by Satan; and Page 408 peace for reconcilement and pacification betweene an offended Judge, and an undone creature. Hereupon the infinite wisdome and counsell of the blessed Trinitie found out a way, which the Angels of heaven gaze on with admiration and astonishment, how to reconcile these different pleas of his attributes together. A Priest then is resolv'd upon, one of the same blessed Trinitie, who by his Fathers ordination, his owne voluntary sus∣ception, and the holy Spirits sanctification, should be fitted for the businesse. He was to be both a Surety, and a Head over sinfull men, to suffer their punishments, and to sanctifie their natures, in the relation of a surety to pay mans debt unto God; and in the relation of an Head to restore Gods Image unto man: and thus in him mercie and truth have met together, righteousnesse and peace have kissed each other, Psal. 85.10.
So then the necessitie which man fallen hath of this Priest here spoken of, is grounded upon the sweet har∣mony, and mutuall kisses of Gods Mercy, Truth, Righ∣teousnesse, and Peace; which will more distinctly ap∣peare by considering three things: First, God did pur∣pose not utterly to destroy his creature, and that princi∣pally for these two reasons, as we may observe out of the Scriptures: First, his owne free and everlasting love, and that infinite delight which he hath in mercy, which dis∣poseth him abundantly to pardon, and to exercise loving kindnesse in the earth, Mic. 7.18. Exod. 34.6, 7. Psalm. 103.8. Esay 55.7. Ier. 9.24. Secondly, his delight to be actively glorified by his creatures voluntary service and subjection: Herein is my Father glorified, that you beare much fruit, Iohn 15.8. I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that hee turne from his way and live, Ezek. 33.11. He delighteth most in unbloudy con∣quests, when by his patience, goodnesse, and forbearance he subdueth the hearts, affections, and consciences of men unto himselfe, so leading them unto repentance, Page 409 and bringing downe their thoughts unto the obedience of Christ: he loveth to see things in their primitive recti∣tude and beautie, and therefore esteemeth himselfe more glorified in the services, than in the sufferings of men. Hee loveth to have a Church and generation of men, which shall serve him in the middest of all his enemies. The Lord loveth the gates of Sion, more than all the dwel∣lings of Iacob, Psalm. 87.2. namely, because hee was there more solemnely worshipped and served. And therefore he resolved not to destroy all men, lest there should be no Religion upon the earth. When the An∣gels fell, they fell not all, many were still left to glorifie him actively in their service of him, but when Adam fell, all mankinde fell in him, so that there was no tree of this Paradise left to bring forth any fruit unto God (and this is most certaine, God had rather have his trees for fruit, than for fuell,) and for this reason he was pleased to re∣store mankinde againe. These are the causes why the Lord would not utterly destroy man, but these alone shew not the necessitie of a Priest to come betweene God and man.
Secondly, God did purpose not to suffer sinne to passe utterly unrevenged, and that for these reasons: First, be∣cause of his great Hatred thereunto. He is of purer eyes than to behold evill, he cannot looke on iniquitie, Hab. 1.13. it provoketh a nauseousnesse and abhorrencie in him, Psal. 5.6. Zech. 8.17. Revel. 3.16. Amos 5.21, 22. Esay 1.13, 14. Secondly, because of his Truth, and the Law which he had established against sinne,* which he will in no wise abolish, one jot or tittle shall in no wise passe from the Law till all be fulfilled, Matth. 5.18. for it is altogether undecent, especially to the wisdome and righteousnesse of God, that that which provoketh the execution, should procure the abrogation of his Law, that that should supplant and undermine the Law, for the alone preventing whereof, the Law was before esta∣blished. Page 410 Thirdly, because of his terrour and fearefull Majestie, for God will have men alwayes to tremble be∣fore him, and by his terrour to bee perswaded from sin∣ning, 2 Cor. 5.10, 11. God will for this cause have men alwaies to feare before him, because he reserveth to him∣selfe entire the punishment of sinne; Feare him who is able to destroy both bodie and soule in hell, I say unto you feare him, saith our Saviour, Matth 10.28. Luke 12.4. for it is a fearefull thing to fall into the hands of the li∣ving God, and therefore we ought to serve him with re∣verence and godly feare, because he is a consuming fire, Hebr. 10.30.12.28, 29.
Thirdly, adde unto all this the everlasting Impotency which is in man either to satisfie God, or to repaire him∣selfe. Gods justice is Infinit which is wronged, & his glo∣ry infinite, of which man had attempted to spoile & rob him, and man is both finite in himselfe and very impotent by reason of sin (for to be a sinner, and without strength are termes equivalent in the Apostle, Rom. 5.6.8.) Now then betweene finite and infinite there can be no propor∣tion, and therefore from the one to the other there can be no satisfaction: man is utterly unable to doe any of Gods will, because he is altogether carnall, Rom. 8.7. 1 Cor. 2.14. and he is utterly unable either to suffer or to breake thorow the wrath of God, because he hath not strength enough to endure it, nor obedience to submit unto it. Now then joyne all these things together, and wee shall see the absolute necessity we had of a Priest. God will not execute the severity of his Law, for there∣by the creature should everlastingly lose the fruition of him, and he should likewise lose the service and volun∣tary subjection of his creature. And yet he will not abo∣lish his Law neither, lest thereby his justice should be the more securely abused, his hatred against sinne the lesse declared, his truth in all his threatnings questioned, and his dreadfull Majesty by men neglected, as the woodden Page 411 king by the frogs in the fable, hee will not punish those persons whom he loves, because he is pitifull to them: he will not passe over the sinnes which he hates, because he is jealous towards himselfe. Man and sin are as inse∣parably joyned together since the fall, as fire and heat; yet God wil have mercy on the man, & he wil take ven∣geance of the sin. Some course then or other must there be found out, to translate this mans sins on anothers per∣son who may be able to beare them, and to interest this mans person in anothers righteousnesse, which may bee able to cover him. Some way must be found out, that things may bee all one in regard of man, as if the Law had beene utterly abrogated, and that they may be all one in regard of God too, as if the creature had beene utterly condemned. And all this is done in our High Priest. On him was executed the curse of the Law, by him was fulfilled the righteousnesse of the Law, for him was remitted the sin of man, and through him were all things made new againe. The world was in Christ as in its suretie, making satisfaction to the justice of God; and God was in Christ as in his Ambassadour, reconci∣ling the world unto himselfe againe. By all which wee see the necessitie which man lapsed had of a Priest to re∣store him.
Hence then we may learne, first, how much we ought to hate sinne, which armes the Law, Justice, and power of God against us. As hatefull as it is unto God, so hate∣full it is in it selfe, for hee judgeth uprightly, hee seeth things just as they are, without passion, prejudice, or par∣tialitie: and as hatefull as it is in it selfe, so hatefull should it be unto us, as the onely ground of our misery, of the creatures vanitie, and of Gods dishonour. Wee see it is so hatefull unto God, that he will most certainly be aven∣ged of it. If he spare me, yet he will not spare my sin, though his owne beloved Son must be punished for it. O then why should that be light to mee, which was as Page 412 heavie as a milstone to the soule of Christ? Why should that bee my pleasure, which was his passion? Why should that be in a throne with me, which was upon a crosse with him? Why should I allow that to be really in me, which the Lord so severely punished, when the guilt thereof was but imputed to his Sonne? Many sinnes there are which others in their practice, aswell as Papists in their doctrine and profession esteeme for light and veniall sinnes. And veniall indeed they are, per exo∣ratorem Patris Christum, as Tertullian states the questi∣on, by Christ who is a prevailing Advocate with the Fa∣ther. But however let not us dare esteeme that a light thing for which Christ died. And woe had it beene for men, if Christ had not in his body on the tree carried as well the guilt of our idle words, our vaine thoughts, our loose and impertinent actions, as of our oaths, execra∣tions and blasphemies. If great sinnes were as the speare and nailes, certainely small sinnes were the thornes which pierced his head. And therefore we should learne with David to hate every evill way, because God hates it, and suffers it not to passe unpunished, to revenge the quarrell of Christ against those lusts of ours which nai∣led him to his crosse, and to crucifie them for him againe, for, for that end was Christ crucified, that our old man might be crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that hence-forth we should not serve sin, Rom. 6.6.
Againe, wee see by this necessitie of a Priest, how deepely we stand engaged to our mercifull God, who hath vouchsafed to helpe us in our greatest necessitie. How we ought to love him, who hath first of all loved us. How wee ought in our bodies and in our spirits to glorifie him, who hath so dearely bought us. How we should like Voluntaries fight for him who overcame for us. How thankfull we should be to him, who was so compassionate unto us. How wee should admire and Page 413 adore the unsearchable riches of his wisdome and good∣nesse, who when wee were desperately and incurably gone, had found out a way of escape and deliverance for us. God stood not in need of us or any service of ours, he could have glorified himselfe in our just destru∣ction. Who then can enough expresse either the mercy of God, or the dutie of man, when hee considers that God should call together all the depths of his owne wis∣dome and counsell, to save a company of desperate fu∣gitives, who had joyned in combinations with his grea∣test enemies to resist and dishonour him? It would have posed all the wisdome of the world, (though misery be commonly very witty to shape and fashion to it selfe images of deliverance) to have found out a way to hea∣ven betweene the wrath of God, and the sinne of man. It would have posed all the heavenly intelligences, and the united consultations of the blessed Angels, to have reconciled Gods mercy in the salvation of man, and his justice in the condemnation of sinne, to have powred out hell upon the sinne, and yet to have bestowed hea∣ven upon the sinner. If God should have instructed us thus farre, you are miserable creatures, but I am a mer∣cifull God; the demands of my justice I must not deny, neither will I deny the entreaties of my mercy: finde me out a sacrifice answerable to my justice, and it shall be accepted for you all: O where could man have found out a creature of capacitie enough to hold, or of strength enough to beare the sinnes of the world, or the wrath of God? Where could he have found out in heaven or earth, amongst men or Angels a Priest that durst accom∣pany such a sacrifice into the presence of so consuming a fire? Or where could he have found out an Altar where∣on to offer, and whereby to sanctifie so great a sacrifice? No, no, the misery of man was too deepe, and inextri∣cable for all the created counsell in the world to invent a deliverance. Now then if God himselfe did studie to savePage 414 me, how great reason is there that I should studie to serve him? How ought all my wisdome, and counsell, and thoughts, and desires be directed to this one resolution, to live acceptably and thankfully unto him, who when hee might have produced glory to himselfe out of my confusion, chose rather to humble, and as it were for a while to unglorifie himselfe for my salvation? Certain∣ly that man did never rightly understand the horrour of sinne, the infinite hatred of God against it, the heavinesse of his wrath, the malediction of the Law, the mystery and vast dimensions of Gods love in Christ, the preci∣ousnesse of his sacrifice, the end, purpose, or merit of his death, any of those unsearchable riches of God mani∣fested in the flesh, who will not crucifie a vanitie, a lust, a pleasure, an earthly member unto him againe; who findes more content and satisfaction in his owne wayes of sinne and death, more wisdome in the temptations and deceits of Satan and his owne fleshly minde, than in those deepe mysteries of grace, and contrivances of mer∣cie, which the Angels desire to prie into.
Therefore in the last place wee should labour to feele this necessitie we have of such a Priest. This is the only reason why so few make use of so pretious a fountaine, because they trust in their owne muddie and broken cisternes at home, and are never sensibly and throughly touched with the sense of their owne wants; for it is not the saying and confessing, ore tenus, that I have nothing, nor the knowing in speculation only that I have nothing, but the feeling and sm•rting by reason of my want, which will drive me to seeke for reliefe abroad. If a man did seriously consider and lay together such thoughts as these; I am very busie for the affaires and passages of this present life, which will quickely vanish and passe away like a Weavers shuttle, or a tale that is told. I have ano∣ther and an abiding life to live after this is over. All that I toile for here is but for the backe, the belly, the bagge, Page 415 and the posterity. And am I not neerer to my selfe, than I am to my money? Am I not neerer to my soule, than I am to my carkasse, or to my seed? Must I not have a be∣ing in that, when neither I nor my posterity have either backe to be clothed, or belly to bee fed, or name to be supported? O why am I not as sadly imployed, why spend I not some at least as serious and inquisitive thoughts about this, as about the other? Doe I not know that I must one day stand before him who is a consuming fire, that I must one day be weighed in the ballance, and woe be unto me if I am found too light? Appeare before him I dare not of my selfe alone, with∣out a Priest to mediate for me, to cover and protect me from his fury, and to reconcile me unto him againe. My person wants a Priest, it is clogg'd with infinite Guilt, which without him cannot bee covered. My nature wants a Priest, it is overspred with a deepe and univer∣sall corruption, which without him cannot be cured. My sinnes want a Priest, they are in number and in quality above measure sinfull, which without him cannot bee pardoned. My services want a Priest, they are blemi∣shed and poisoned with many failings and corruptions, without him they cannot be accepted: I say, if men did seriously lay together such thoughts as these, it could not be that rationall and sad men, men of deepe thoughts in other matters, who love to boult out things to the bran, and to be very solicitous for evidence and certainty in them, should suffer such a businesse as this, their interest in that Priest who must alone clothe their persons with his righteousnesse, and cleanse their nature with his Spi∣rit, and wash away their sinnes with his bloud, and san∣ctifie their prayers, and almes, and all religious devoti∣ons with his incense, and intercession, or else all of them must passe thorow the triall of such a fire as will con∣sume them all, to be slubber'd over with loose and slen∣der thoughts, and to bee rested in, and resolv'd upon Page 416 rather by the lying presumptions of a deceitfull heart, than by the evidences and testimony of Gods holy Spi∣rit. Consider what I say, and the Lord give you under∣standing in all things.
The second thing proposed to bee considered in the Priesthood of Christ, was the qualification of that person who was to be a fit High-Priest for us. Legall sacrifices would not serve the turne to purge away sin, because of their basenesse. They were not expiations of sin, Heb. 9.9.12. but were onely remembrances and commemorations of sinne, Heb. 10.3. necessary it was that heavenly things themselves should be purified with better sacrifices, Heb. 9.23. for they of themselves, without that typicall rela∣tion which they had unto Christ, Gal. 3.23. and that In∣strumentall vertue which in that relation they had from him, Heb. 9.13. were utterly weake and unprofitable, Heb. 7.18. as the shadow hath neither being in it selfe, nor can give refreshment unto another, but dependently on the body to which it belongeth. And this appeareth, first, by their reiteration, where the conscience is once purged, and there is remission of sin, there is no more offring, Heb. 10.2-18. for the repeating of the sacrifice shews that the per∣son for whose sake it is repeated, is in statu quo prius, in the same condition now as hee was in at the time of the former oblation. Secondly, by their Variety, there were both Gifts and sacrifices for sins, Heb. 188.8.131.52. buls, and goats, and calves, and lambes, Heb. 184.108.40.206. and that shewes that no one thing was fit to typifie the full expia∣tion wrought by Christ, whereas he offered but One Sa∣crifice, and by that perfected for ever them that are san∣ctified, Heb. 10.12.14. And if legall sacrifices would not serve the turne, then neither would legall Priests be fit for so great a worke; for all the good which the Priest doth is in the vertue of the sacrifice which he brings: and this likewise the Apostle proves by many arguments: First, because of their sinfulnes, for they themselves wanted an Page 417 expiation, and therefore could not be mediatours for the sinnes of others, Heb. 220.127.116.11. Secondly, because of the carnalnesse of their institution. They were made after the Law of a carnall commandement, that is, of a temporary, perishable, and meerely externall ordinance, Heb. 7.16. which prescribed onely the examples and shadowes of heavenly things. Thirdly, because of their mortality, they were not suffered to continue by reason of death, wheras our Priest must live to make intercession. Fourthly, be∣cause of their ministery▪ and the revolution of their servi∣ces, which never came to a period or perfection in which the Priest might give over, and Sit downe. They Stood daily ministring, and oftentimes offering (their service did daily returne upon them againe) whereas Christ, after he had offered One sacrifice for sinne for ever, sate downe on the right hand of God, Heb. 10.11, 12.
To shew you then the qualifications of this Priest. A Priest in general is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, to offer sacrifice for the obtaining of righteous∣nesse and remission of sinnes.
First then, Christ being a Priest, must of necessity be a Mediator and a Surety betweene parties, that he might have one unto whom, and others for whom & in whose behalfe to offer a sacrifice. Every Priest must be a media∣tor to stand betweene God and the people, and to inter∣cept and beare the iniquity even of their holy things.* And unto this mediation there must concur the consent of the parties between whom it is negotiated; for a mediator is not a mediator of one. Now God giveth his consent by laying on him our iniquities, and making his soule an of∣fering for sin, and thereby declaring himselfe to be One with us. And man gives his consent,* when by faith hee receiveth Christ, and so becommeth not only the friend, but the Sonne of God, Ioh. 1.12.
Secondly, but every Mediator is not presently a Priest, for there is a mediation onely by way of intreaty, prayer, Page 418 and request, wherein men doe obtaine but not deserve or purchase remission for others; such mediators were Ioab, and the Widdow of Tekoah in the behalfe of Absalom, 2 Sam. 14. and there are mediators by way of satisfaction, as Sureties are between the creditor and the debtor; and such a mediator was Christ, not onely a Mediator, but also a surety of a better covenant, Heb. 8.6. Heb. 7.22. he was not to procure remission of our sinnes by way of fa∣vor and request; but hee was set forth to declare the Righteousnesse of God, Rom. 3.25. and such a mediator betweene God and us must needs bee a Priest too; for the debt which we owed unto God was bloud. Without shedding of bloud there is no remission, Heb.•.22.
Thirdly, being such a Priest he must have a Sacrifice an∣swerable to the debt which was owed to his Father. The debt wee owed was the forfeiture and subjection of our Soules and Bodies to the wrath of God, and the curse of the Law. God is able to destroy both Soule and Body in Hell, Matth. 10.28. It is not to bee understood onely of his Absolute power but of that power which as our Iudge hee hath over us per modum Iustitiae, as we are his Prisoners, and so obnoxious to the Curses of his Law. Therefore our Priest also was to have a Soule and a Body, to pay as a surety for our Soules and Bodies. Thou shalt make his Soule an offering for sinne, Esai. 53.10. My soule is exceeding sorrowfull even unto Death, Matth. 26.38. And againe, A Body hast thou prepared mee; we are san∣ctified through the Offering of the Body of Iesus Christ once for all, Heb. 10.5.10. His owne selfe bare our sinnes in his owne Body on the tree, 1 Pet. 2.24. So hee was to bee Man that he might have a fit and answerable Sacri∣fice to offer, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Thou hast fitted or prepared a Body for mee, that my Sacrifice might bee proportio∣nable to that in the place whereof it stood. And thereby as hee is fit for passion, so also for Compassion, hee was to bee our Kinsman, and of our bloud, that hee might bee a Page 419 mercifull and faithfull high Priest, Heb. 18.104.22.168. Deut. 18.15. And fit for derivation of his Righteousnesse, and transfusion of his Spirit upon us; for hee that San∣ctifieth and they that are Sanctified are both of one. And as it must bee thus fitted to the sinner that it may bee a proper and suteable Sacrifice for his sinne: So must it bee perfect likewise. First, Without blemish or sinne. Such an High Priest became us who is Holy, Harmelesse, unde∣filed, separate from sinners, Heb. 7.26. That so hee might offer himselfe without spot unto God, and have no need of a Sacrifice for himselfe, Heb. 9.14. 1 Pet. 1.19. Se∣condly, without any manner of Defect, which should stand in need of supplement and contribution from some thing else, that of it selfe alone it might bee sufficient, and available to bring perfection and salvation unto men, and to leave no more conscience of sinne behinde it, Heb. 22.214.171.124.
Fourthly, as there was to bee such a Sacrifice, perfect in it selfe, and fit for the use and occasion for which it was appointed, so there must bee an Altar upon which to offer it unto the Father; for it is the Altar which San∣ctifieth the offering; that is, which in regard of God gi∣veth it acceptance, and which in regard of Man giveth it vertue, merit and value answerable to his occasions. This Sacrifice was to be sufficient for the satisfaction of God, and for the justification and reparation of Man, and both these by meanes of the Altar on which it was offered, which was the Divine Nature. Through the Eternall Spirit hee offered himselfe without spot unto God, and so by his bloud purgeth our consciences from dead workes, Heb. 9.14. For Christ as God sanctified himselfe as man, that so we through the vertue and merit of his Sacrifice might bee sanctified likewise, Iohn 17.19. Hee was to be God as well as man, Medium participationis; before hee could bee Medium reconciliationis; that so he might bee himselfe supported to undergoe and breake through the Page 420 weight of sinne and the Law, and having so done might have compasse enough in his Sacrifice to satisfie the Iu∣stice of God, and to swallow up the sinnes of the world.
Fifthly, in as much as the Vertue of the Deitie was to bee attributed truly to the Sacrifice (else it could have no value nor vertue in it) and that Sacrifice was to be his Owne Life, Soule and Body, who is the Priest to offer it, because hee was not barely a Priest but a Suretie, and so his person stood in stead of ours, to pay our debt, which was a debt of bloud, and therefore hee was to offer himselfe, Heb. 9.26. 1 Pet. 2.24. And in as much as his person must needs bee equivalent in dignity and representation to the persons of all those for whom hee mediated, and who were for his sake onely delivered from suffering: for these causes necessary it was that God and man should make but one Christ, in the unity of the same infinite person, whose natures they both were, that which suffered, and that which sanctified. The hu∣mane nature was not to bee left to subsist in and for it selfe, but was to have dependence, and supportance in the person of the Sonne, and a kinde of Inexistence in him, as the graft of an apple may have in the stock of a plumb. From whence ariseth; first, the Communication of properties betweene the natures; when by reason of the unity of the person, wee attribute that to one nature which is common to the other, not by confusion or trans∣fusion, but by Communion in one end and in one person; as when the Scriptures attribute Humane properties to the Divine Nature. The Lord of Life was slaine, Act. 3.15. God purchased the Church with his owne bloud, Act. 20.28. They crucified the Lord of Glory, 1 Cor. 2.8. Or Divine to the Humane Nature. As the Sonne of Man came downe from heaven, Ioh. 3.13. and the Sonne of Man shall ascend where hee was before, Ioh. 6.62. Or when both natures worke with their severall concurrence unto the same worke, as to walke on the waters, to rise out of the Page 421 grave, &c. By which Communication of properties vertue is derived from the Altar to the Sacrifice in as much as it was the Lord of Glory which was crucified. So that his passions were in regard of the person which bare them, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, both Humane and Divine, because the person was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, God and Man. Secondly, from the unity of the person supporting the Humane Nature with the Divine, ariseth the Appliablenesse of one sacri∣fice unto all men. Because the Person of the Sonne is in∣finitely more than equivalent to the persons of all men, as one Diamond to many thousand pebbles; and because the obedience of this sacrifice was the obedience of God, and therefore cannot but have more vertue and well-pleasingnesse in it, than there can bee demerit or malignity in the sinne of man.
Now this Person in whose unity the two Natures are conjoyned, is the second person in the Holy Trinity. He was the person against whom the first sinne was princi∣pally committed, for it was an affectation of wisedome and to bee like unto God; (as the falling-sinne now is the sinne against the third person) and therefore the mercy is the more glorious that hee did undertake the expiation. By him the world was made, Col. 1.16, 17. Ioh. 1.3. and therefore being spoiled hee was pleased to new make it againe, and to bring many Sonnes unto glory, Heb. 2.10. Hee was the expresse image of his Fa∣ther, Heb. 1.3. Col. 1.15. And therefore by him are wee renewed after Gods image againe, Col. 3.10. He was the Sonne of God by Nature, and therefore the mercy was againe the more glorified in his making us Sonnes by Adoption, and so joynt heirs with himselfe who was the heire of all things.
So then such an high Priest it became us to have, as should bee first an equall middle person between God and Man. In regard of God towards man an officer ap∣pointed to declare his Righteousnesse, and in regard of Page 422 man towards God a suretie ready to purchase their par∣don and deliverance. Secondly, such an one as should bee one with us in the fellowship of our nature, passions, infirmities and temptations, that so hee might the more readily suffer for us, who in so many things suffered with us; and one with God the Father in his Divine Nature, that so by the vertue of his sufferings and resurrection he might bee able both to satisfie his Iustice, to justifie our persons, to sanctifie our Nature, to perfume and purifie our services, to raise up our dead bodies, and to present us to his Father a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle. And both these in the Vnitie of one Person, that so by that meanes the Divine Nature might communi∣cate vertue, merit, and acceptablenesse to the sufferings of the humane; and that the dignity of that person might countervaile the persons of all other men. And this per∣son that person of the three, by whom the glory of the mercy should bee the more wonderfully magnified. In one word two things are requisite to our High Priest. A Grace of Vnion to make the person God and man in one Christ: and a Grace of Vnction, to fit him with such ful∣nesse of the Spirit, as may enable him to the performance of so great a worke, Esai. 11.2.
By all which wee should learne: First, to adore this great mysterie of God manifested in the flesh, and justi∣fied in the Spirit, the unsearchablenesse of that love, which appointed God to bee man, the Creator of the world to bee despised as a worme, for the salvation of such rebels, as might justly have been left under chaines of darknesse, and reserved to the same inevitable destru∣ction with the Devils which fell before them. Secondly, to have alwayes before our eyes the great hatefulnesse of sinne, which no sacrifice could have expiated but the bloud of God himselfe; and the great severity and inexo∣rablenesse of Gods Iustice against it, which no satisfa∣ction could pacifie, no obedience compensate, but the Page 422 suffering and exinanition of himselfe. O what a condi∣tion shall that man bee in, who must stand or rather ever∣lastingly sinke and bee crushed unto the weight of that wrath against sinne, which amazed and made heavie unto death the soule of Christ himselfe? which made him who had the strength of the Deitie to support him, the fulnesse of the Spirit to sanctifie, and prepare him, the message of an Angell to comfort him, the relation of a beloved Sonne to refresh him, the voyce of his Father from heaven testifying unto him that hee was heard in what hee feared, the assurance of an ensuing glorie and victorie to encourage him (none of which shall be allow∣ed the wicked in hell, who shall not onely bee the ves∣sels of his vengeance, but which will bee as grievous as that, the everlasting objects of his hatred and detesta∣tion) which made I say even the Sonne of God himselfe, notwithstanding all these abatements, to pray with strong Cries, and bloudy drops, and woefull conflicts of soule against the Cup of his Fathers wrath, and to shrink and decline that very worke for which onely hee came into the world? Thirdly, to praise God for that great honour which hee hath conferred upon our nature in the flesh of his Sonne, which in him is anointed with more grace and glory, and filled with more vast and unmatcha∣ble perfections than all the Angels in heaven are to∣gether capable of; for though for a little while hee was made lower than the Angels for the purpose of his suffe∣ring, yet hee is now sat downe on the right hand of the Majesty on high, Angels, and Authorities, and Powers being made subject unto him, Heb. 2.6-9. 1 Pet. 3.22. Heb. 1.4-13. And for the infinite mercy which hee hath shewed to our soules, bodies, and persons in the sacrifice of his Sonne; in our reconciliation and favour with him, in the justification of our persons from the guilt of sinne, in the sanctification of our nature from the corruption of sinne, in the inheritance reserved in heaven for us, in the Page 424 Communion and fellowship wee have with Christ in his merits, power, Priviledges, and heavenly likenesse. Now, saith the Apostle, wee are Sonnes, and it doth not yet ap∣peare what wee shall bee: but wee know that when hee shall appeare, wee shall bee •ike him; for wee shall see him, as hee is, 1 Ioh. 3.2.
From these things which have been spoken of the Personall Qualifications of our High Priest, it will bee easie to finde out the third particular inquired into, touching the Acts or Offices of Christs Priesthood; or ra∣ther touching the parts of the same Action, for it is all but one. Two Acts there are wherein the execution of this office doth consist. The first, an Act of Oblation of himselfe once for all, as an adequate sacrifice, and full compensation for the sinnes of the whole world, Heb. 9.14.26. Our Debt unto God was Twofold. As we were his Creatures, so wee owed unto him a Debt of Active Obedience in doing the Duties of the whole Law, and as wee are his prisoners, so wee owed unto him a Debt of passive obedience in suffering willingly and throughly the Curses of the Law. And under this Law Christ was made, to redeeme us by his fulfilling all that righteous∣nesse who were under the precepts and penalties of the Law our selves.* Therefore the Apostle saith, hee was sinne for us; that is, a Sacrifice for sinne, to meete and in∣tercept that wrath which was breaking out upon us, 2 Cor. 5.21. Herein was the great mercy of God seen to us that hee would not punish Sinners, though he would not spare Sinne. If hee should have resolved to have jud∣ged Sinners, wee must have perished in our owne per∣sons, but being pleased to deale with sinne onely in ab∣stracto, and to spare the sinner, hee was contented to ac∣cept of a Sacrifice, which (under the Relation and Title of a Sacrifice) stood in his sight like the body of sinne alone by it selfe; in which respect hee is likewise said to bee made a Curse for us, Gal. 3.13. Now that which toge∣ther Page 425 with these things giveth the complete and ultimate formality of a Sacrifice unto the death of Christ, was his owne *willingnesse thereunto in that hee offered himselfe. And therefore hee is called the Lambe of God, that ta∣keth away the sinnes of the world, because hee was dumbe, and opened not his mouth, but was obedient unto death, even the death of the Crosse, Phil. 2.8. Christs death in regard of God the Father was a necessary death; for hee had before determined that it should bee done, Act. 4.28. Thus it is written, and thus it behov'd Christ to suffer, Luk. 24.46. The Sonne of Man must bee lifted up, Ioh. 3.14. And therefore hee is said to bee a Lambe slaine from the beginning of the world, in regard of Gods Decree and preordination. But this gave it not the for∣mality of a Sacrifice; for God the Father was not the Priest, and it is the Action of the Priest which giveth the being of a Sacrifice to that which is offered. Againe, Christs death in regard of men was violent. They slew him with wicked hands, and killed the Prince of life, Act. 2.•3.3.15. And in this sense it was no Sacrifice neither, for they wer••ot Priests but butchers of Christ. Thirdly, his death in regard of himselfe was *voluntarie. I lay down my life, no man taketh it from mee, but I lay it downe of my selfe. I have power to lay it downe, and I have power to take it againe, Ioh. 10.17, 18. And this oblation, and willing obedience, or rendring himselfe to God is that which gives being to a Sacrifice. Hee was delivered by God, Act. 2.23. Hee was delivered by Iudas and the Iewes, Matth. 27.2. Act. 3.13. and hee was yeelded and given up by himselfe, Gal. 2.20. Eph. 5.25.* In regard of God it was Iustice and mercy, Ioh. 3.16, 17. Rom. 3.25. In regard of man it was murther, and crueltie, Act. 7.52. In regard of Christ it was obedience and humility, Phil. 2.8. And that voluntary act of his was that which made it a Sacrifice. Hee gave himselfe for us, an offering and a Sacrifice to God for a sweete smelling savor, Eph. 5.2. Page 426* His death did not grow out of the condition of his na∣ture, neither was it inflicted on him by reason of an ex∣cesse of strength in those that executed it, (for he was the Lord of glory) but onely out of mercy towards men, out of obedience towards God, and out of power in himselfe. For omnis Christi infirmitas fuit ex potestate. By his pow∣er hee assumed those infirmities which the oeconomic and dispensation of his Priesthood on the earth required; and by the same power hee laid them aside againe, when that service was ended. And this I say was that which made it a Sacrifice. As martyrdome, when men lay down their lives for the profession of the truth, and the service of the Church, is called a Sacrifice, Phil. 2.17.
If it bee here objected that Christs death was against his owne will, for hee exceedingly feared it, Heb. 5.7. and prayed earnestly against it, as a thing contrary to his will, Matth. 26.39. To this I answer, that all this doth not hinder but commend his willingnesse and obedience. Consider him in private as a Man, of the same naturall affections, desires, and abhor•encies with other men, and consider the cup as it was calix amaritu••••s, a very bit∣ter cup, and so hee most justly feared and declined it, as knowing that it would bee a most woefull and a heavy combate which hee was entring upon: but consider him in his publike Relation, as a mediator, a surety, a mercifull and faithfull high Priest, and so hee most willingly and obediently submitted unto it. And this willingnesse ra∣tione officii was much the greater, because ratione naturae, his will could not but shrinke from it. It is easie to bee willing in such a service as is suteable to our naturall con∣dition and affections, but when nature shall necessarily shrinke, sweate, startle, and stand amazed at a service, then not to repent, nor decline, nor fling off the burden, but with submission of heart to lie downe under it, this is of all other the * greatest obedience. It was the voyce of nature, and the presentation of the just, and implanted Page 427 desires of the flesh, to say Transeat, let it passe from me. It was the retractation of mercy and duty to say, Glorifie thy selfe. What-ever my nature desires, what-ever my will declines, what-ever becomes of me, yet still glorifie thy selfe and save thy Church. If it cannot otherwise bee, than by my drinking this bitter Cup, Thy will bee done.
The second Act in the worke of Christs Priesthood is the act of Application, or virtuall continuation of this Sacrifice to the end of the world; and that is in the Inter∣cession of Christ; unto which there is prerequired a power and prevalency over all his enemies, to breake through the guilt of sinne, the Curse of the Law, and the chaines of death, with which it was impossible that hee should bee held. The vision which Moses had of the burning bush, was an excellent resemblance of the Sacrifice of Christ. The Bush noted the Sacrifice▪ the fire, the suffe∣ring; the continuance and prevailing of the bush against the fire, the victorie of Christ and breaking through all those sufferings, which would utterly have devoured any other man. And this power of Christ was shewed in his Resurrection, wherein hee was declared to bee the Sonne of God with power, Rom. 1.4. and in his ascension when hee led all his Enemies captive, Eph. 4.8. and in his sitting at the right hand of God, farre above all principa∣lities and powers, Eph. 1.19, 20. All which did make way to the presenting of his Sacrifice before the mercy-seate, which is the consummation thereof, and without which hee had not been a Priest. Wee have such an high Priest, saith the Apostle, as is set downe on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, for if hee were on earth hee should not bee a Priest, seeing that there are Priests which offer gifts according to the Law, Heb. 8.1.4. It was the same continued action, whereby the Priest did offer without the Holy place, and did then bring the bloud into the holiest of all, Heb. 13.11. For the reason why it was shed was to present it to the mercy-seate, and to shew it unto Page 428 the Lord there. So Christs act or office was not ended, nor fit to denominate him a complete Priest, till hee did enter with bloud, and present his offering in the holiest of all not made with hands, Heb. 9.24. And therefore he had not been a Priest if hee should have continued on the earth, for there was another Priesthood there, which was not to give place but upon the accomplishment of his; for the whole figure was to passe away when the whole truth was come. Now Christs Oblation was the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Truth prefigured in the Priests Sacrificing of the Beast, and his entrance into heaven was the Truth prefi∣gured in the Priests carrying of the bloud into the holiest of all. And therefore both these were to bee accompli∣shed, before the Leviticall Priesthood did give place.
Here then it will bee needfull for the more full unfol∣ding of the Priesthood of Christ to open the Doctrine of his Intercession at the right hand of his Father. The Apostle calleth it the Appearing of Christ for us, Heb. 9.24. which is verbum forense, an expression borrowed from the custome of humane courts; for as in them when the plaintiffe or defendant is called, their A•turnie appea∣reth in their name and behalfe; so when we are summo∣ned by the justice of God to defend our selves against those exceptions and complaints, which it preferreth a∣gainst us, wee have an Advocate with the Father, even Iesus Christ the righteous, who standeth out, and appea∣reth for us, 1 Ioh. 2.2. As the high Priest went into the sanctuary with the names of the twelve Tribes upon his breast: so Christ entred into the holiest of all with our persons, and in our behalfe, in which respect the Apostle saith that he was Apprehended of Christ, Phil. 3.12. and that we doe sit together in heavenly places with him, Eph. 2.6. Merit, and Efficacie are the two things which set forth the vertue of Christs Sacrifice by which hee hath reconciled us to his Father. The Merit of Christ, being a Redundant merit, and having in it a plentifull redemp∣tion, Page 429 and a sufficient salvation, hath in it two things: First, there is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an expiation, or satisfaction by way of price. Secondly, there is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an Inheritance by way of purchase, and acquisition, Eph. 1.14. Hee was made of a woman, made under the Law, for two ends, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; that hee might re∣deeme us from the curse under which wee lay, and that hee might purchase for us the inheritance which we had forfeited before; for so by adoption in that place I un∣derstand in a complexed and generall sense every good thing which belongs unto us in the right of our sonship with Christ, and that is the Inheritance of glory, Rom. 8.17.23. Now all this effected by the obedience of Christs death; for in that was the act of impetration or procure∣ment, consisting in the treaty betweene God and Christ. But there is yet further required an execution, a reall effe∣ctualnesse, and actuall application of these to us. As it must bee in regard of God a satisfaction and a purchase, so it must bee likewise in regard of us an actuall redemption and inheritance. And this is done by the intercession of Christ, which is the commemoration, or rather continua∣tion of his Sacrifice. He offered it but once, and yet hee is a Priest for ever, because the Sacrifice once offered doth for ever remaine before the mercy-seate. Thus as in many of the Legall Oblations there was first mactatio, and then Ostensio: First, the beast was slaine on the Altar, and then the bloud was together with incense brought before the mercy-seate, Levit. 16.11-15. So Christ was first slasn•, and then by his owne bloud hee entred into the holy place, Heb. 126.96.36.199. That was done on the earth without the gate, this in heaven, Heb. 13.11, 12. That the Sacri∣fice or obtaining of redemption, this the Application, or conferring of redemption. The Sacrifice consisted in the Death of Christ alone, the application thereof is grounded upon Christs death as its merit, but effected by the Life of Christ as its immediate cause. His death did obtaine, Page 430 his life did conferre redemption upon us. And therefore in the Scriptures our justification and salvation are attri∣buted to the Life of Christ. Hee was delivered for our offences, and Rose againe for our justification, Rom. 4.25. If Christ bee not raised your faith is vaine, you are yet in your sinnes, 1 Cor. 15.17. Hee shall convince the world of righteousnesse, because I goe to my Father, Ioh. 16.10. Because I live you shall live also, Ioh. 14.19. If wee bee dead with Christ, wee beleeve that wee shall also live with him, Rom. 6.8. Being made perfect, or consecrated for ever, he became the Author of eternall salvation unto all them that obey him, Heb. 188.8.131.52. Hee is able per∣fectly to save, because hee ever liveth, Heb. 7.25. Wee were reconciled in his death; but had he there rested, we could never have been acquitted nor entred in, for hee was to bee our forerunner. And therefore the Apostle ad∣deth a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a much more to the Life of Christ. Much more being reconciled shall wee bee saved by his life, Rom. 5.10. Not in point of merit, but onely of efficacy for us; as in buying Land, the laying downe of the price giveth a man a meritorious interest, but the delivering of the deeds, the resigning of the propertie, the yeelding up of the possession giveth a man an actuall interest in that which hee hath purchased: so the death of Christ deser∣veth, but the intercession and life of Christ applieth sal∣vation unto us. It was not barely Christs dying, but his Dying victoriously, so that it was impossible for death to hold him, Act. 2.24. which was the ground of our sal∣vation. Hee could not justifie us, till hee was declared to bee justified himselfe; therefore the Apostle saith, that he was Iustified by the Spirit, 1 Tim. 3.16. Namely by that Spirit, which quickned him, Rom. 184.108.40.206. 1 Pet. 3.18. When Christ offered himselfe a Sacrifice for sinne, hee was numbred amongst transgressors, Mark. 15.28. Hee bare our sinnes along with him on the tree, and so died under the wrongs of men, and under the wrath of God, in Page 431 both respects as a guilty person; but when hee was quick∣ned by the Spirit of holinesse, he then threw off the sinnes of the world from his shoulder, and made it appeare that hee was a righteous person, and that his righteousnesse was the righteousnesse of the world. So then our faith and hope was begun in Christs death, but was finished in his life, he was the Author of it, by enduring the crosse, and hee was the finisher of it, by sitting downe on the right hand of the throne of God, Heb. 12.2. The Apostle summes up all together. It is God that justifieth, who is hee that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is ri∣sen againe, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us, Rom. 8.33, 34.
Now then to shew more distinctly the nature and excellencie of Christs Intercession: It consisteth in these particulars: First, his appearance, or the presenting of his person in our nature and in his owne, as a publick person, a mediator, a sponsor and a pledge for us; as Iuda was both a mediator to request, and a suretie to engage him∣selfe to beare the blame for ever with his Father for his brother Benjamin, Gen. 43.8, 9. And Paul for Onesimus, a Mediator, I beseech thee for my Sonne Onesimus, Phil. v. 9, 10. And a sponsor, If hee hath wronged thee, or oweth the ought, put that on mine account, I will re∣pay it, v. 18, 19. So Christ is both a mediator and surety for us, Heb. 220.127.116.11.
Secondly, the presenting of his merits as a publike sa∣tisfaction for the debt of sinne, and as a publike price for the purchase of Glo•y; for the Iustice of God was not to be intreated or pacified without a satisfaction; and there∣fore where Christ is called an Advocate, hee is called a Propitiation too, 1 Ioh. 2.2. Because hee doth not inter∣cede for us, but in the right and vertue of the price which hee payed. For the Lord spared not his Sonne, but deli∣vered him up for us all, Rom. 8.32. Hee dealt in the full rigour of his Iustice with him.
Page 432Thirdly, in the name of his person, and for the vigour and vertue of his merits, there is a presenting of his De∣sires, his will, his request, and interpellation for us, and so applying both unto us. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given mee, be with me where I am, &c. Ioh. 17.24.
Fourthly, to all this doth answere the consent of the Father, in whose bosome hee is, who heareth him al∣wayes, Ioh. 11.42. And in whom he is well pleased, Math. 17.5. Who called him to this office of being as it were Master of Requests in the behalfe of his Church, and promised to heare him in his petitions,*Ask of mee, and I will give thee, &c. Psal. 2.8. Thus as once when Aeschy∣lus, the Tragedian was accused in Ar•opago for im∣piety, his brother Amynias stood out as his Advocate, using no other plea but this, hee opened his garments and shewed them cubitum sine manu, how hee had lost his hand in the service of the state, and so vindicated his brother: or as Zaleucus, when hee put out one of his owne eyes for his Sonne who had been deprehended in adulterie, delivered him from halfe the punishment which himselfe had decreed against that sinne: or, to come neerer, as when the hand steales, if the back bee scourged, the tongue may, in matters that are not ca∣pitall, intercede for a dismission: so Christ when hee suf∣fered for us (which hee might more justly doe than any one man can for another, because hee was by divine pre∣ordination, and command, and by his owne power, more Lord of his owne life, than any other man is of his, Ioh. 10.18. 1 Cor. 6.19.) may justly in the vertue of those his sufferings intercede in our behalfe for all that, which those his sufferings did deserve, either for the ex∣piation of sinne, or for the purchase of salvation. In which sense the Apostle saith, that the bloud of Christ is a speaking or interceding Bloud, Heb. 12.24.
By all which wee may observe the impiety of the Po∣pish Page 433 Doctrine, which distinguisheth between Mediators of Redemption, and Mediatores of Intercession, affirming that though the Saints are not redeemers of the world, yet they are (as the courtiers of heaven) Mediators of Intercession for us, and so may bee sought unto by us. To which I answer, that wee must distinguish of inter∣ceding, or praying for another. There is one private, and another publike, (which some learned men have obser∣ved in Christs owne Prayers:) or praying out of Charitie,* and out of Iustice or Office: or thirdly, praying out of Hu∣militie, with feare and trembling, or out of Authoritie, which is not properly Prayer, (for Prayer in its strictest sense is a proposing of requests for things unmerited, which wee expect ex vi promissi out of Gods gratious promise, and not ex vi pretii, out of any price or pur∣chase;) but the presenting of the will and good pleasure of Christ to his Father, that hee may thereunto put his seale and consent, the desiring of a thing so, as that hee hath withall a right joyntly of bestowing it, who doth desire it. That the Saints in heaven, and the blessed Angels doe pray for the State of the Church militant, as well as rejoyce at their conversion, in as much as charity remai∣neth after this life, seemeth to bee granted by Cyprian,* and Hierom, neither know I any danger in so affirming if rightly understood. But if so, they doe it onely ex cha∣ritate ut fratres, not ex officio ut mediatores. Out of a ha∣bit of charity to the generall condition of the Church (for it reacheth not to particular men) not out of an office of mediation, as if they were set up for publike persons, appointed not onely to pray for the Church in generall, but to present the prayers of particular men to God in their behalfe. To bee such a mediator belongs onely to Christ, because True intercession (as it is a publike, and authoritative act) is founded upon the satisfactory merits of the person interceding. Hee cannot bee a right Ad∣vocate, who is not a propitiation too. And therefore the Page 434 Papists are faine to venture so farre as to affirme that the intercession of the Saints with God for us is grounded upon the vertue of their owne merits.* Wee pray the Saints to intercede for us, that is, that wee may enjoy the suffrage of their merits. But this is a very wicked Do∣ctrine. First, because it shareth the Glory of Christ, and communicateth it to others. Secondly, because it com∣municateth Gods worship to others. Thirdly, because under pretence of modesty and humility; it bringeth in a cursed boldnesse to denie the faith, and driveth children from their Father unto servants, expressely therein gain∣saying the Apostle, who biddeth us make our requests knowne to God, Phil. 4.6. And assureth us that by Christ wee have boldnesse so to doe, Heb. 10.19. and free accesse allowed us by the Spirit,*Eph. 2.18. whereas one chiefe reason of turning to the Saints and Angels is because sin∣full men must not dare to present themselves or their services unto God in their owne persons, but by the helpe of those Saints that are in more favour with God, and with whom they may bee bolder.
Now from this Doctrine of Christs intercession many and great are the benefits which come unto the Church of God. As first, our fellowship with the Father and his Sonne; I pray for these, that as thou Father art in mee and I in thee, they also may bee one in us, Ioh. 17.21. Se∣condly, the gift of the Holy Ghost, I will pray the Father, and hee shall give you another comforter, that hee may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, Ioh. 14.16, 17. all the comforts, and workings of the Spirit in our hearts, which wee enjoy are fruits of the intercession of Christ. Thirdly, protection against all our spirituall enemies. Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen againe, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us, Rom. 8.34. I pray that thou wouldst keepe them from the evill, Ioh. 17.15. But are not the faithfull subject to evils, cor∣ruptions, Page 435 and temptations still? how then is that part of the intercession of Christ made good unto us? for under∣standing hereof wee must know that the intercession of Christ is available to a faithfull man presently; but yet in a manner suteable and convenient to the present estate and condition of the Church, so that there may bee left roome for another life, and therefore wee must not con∣ceive all presently done. As the Sunne shineth on the Moone by leasurely degrees, till shee come to her full light; or as if the King grant a pardon to bee drawen; though the grant bee of the whole thing at once, yet it cannot bee written and sealed but word after word, and line after line, and action after action: so the grant of our holinesse is made unto Christ at first, but in the execution thereof, there is line upon line precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little; such an order by Christ observed in the distribution of his Spirit and grace, as is most su∣teable to a life of faith, and to the hope wee have of a better Kingdome. I have prayed for thee that thy faith faile not, saith Christ unto Peter, yet wee see it did shake and totter, non rogavit ut ne deficeret, sed ut ne prorsus deficeret, the Prayer was not that there might be no fai∣ling at all, but that it might not utterly, and totally faile.
Fourthly, the assurance of our sitting in heavenly places. His sitting in heavenly places hath raised us up together and made sit with him, Eph. 2.6. First, because he sitteth there in our flesh. Secondly, because hee sitteth there in our behalfe. Thirdly, because hee sitteth there as our Center, Col. 3.1, 2. And so is neere unto us, natura, officio & spiritu, by the unity of the same nature with us; by the quality of his office or Sponsorship for us; and by the Communion and fellowship of his Spirit.
Fifthly, Strength against our sins: for from his Priest∣hood in heaven, which is his Intercession; the Apostle inferres the writing of the Law in our hearts, Hebr. 18.104.22.168, 10.
Page 436Sixthly, the sanctification of our services: of which the Leviticall Priests were a type, who were to beare the ini∣quity of the holy things of the children of Israel, that they might be accepted, Exod. 28.38. He is the Angell of the Covenant, who hath a golden Censer, to offer up the prayers of the Saints, Revel. 8.3. There is a three-fold evill in man; First, an Evill of state or condition under the guilt of sinne. Secondly, an Evill of nature, under the corruption of sinne, and under the indisposition and inep∣titude of all our faculties unto good. Thirdly, an Evill in all our services, by the adherencie of sin, for that which toucheth an uncleane thing, is made uncleane, and the best wine mixed with water, will lose much of its strength and native spirits. Now Christ by his righteous∣nesse and merits justifieth our persons from the guilt of sinne; and by his grace and Spirit doth in measure puri∣fie our faculties, and cure them of that corruption of sin which cleaves unto them. And lastly, by his incense and intercession doth cleanse our services, from the noy∣somenesse and adherencie of sinne, so that in them the Lord smelleth a sweet savour; and so the Apostle cal∣leth the contributions of the Saints towards his necessi∣ties, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, and well pleasing unto God, Phil. 4.18. Gen. 8.21. And this is a benefit which runneth through the whole life of a Christian; all the ordinary workes of our calling (be∣ing parts of our service unto God, for in them we worke as servants to the same Master) are unto us sanctified, and to the Father made acceptable by the intercession of his Sonne, who hath made us Priests, to offer all our sacrifices with acceptance upon this Altar, Revel. 1.6. 1 Pet. 2.5. Esay•56.7.
Seventhly, the Inward interpellation of the soule it selfe for it selfe, which is, as it were, the eccho of Christs intercession in our hearts: The Spirit maketh intercessi∣on for us with groanes which cannot be uttered, Rom. 8.26. Page 437 The same Spirit groaneth in us, and more fully and di∣stinctly by Christ prayeth for us. These things I speake in the world, saith our Saviour, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves, Ioh. 17.13. that is, as I con∣ceive, I have made this prayer in the world, and left a record and patterne of it in the Church, that they feeling the same heavenly desires kindled in their owne hearts, may bee comforted in the workings of that Spirit of prayer in them, which testifieth to their soules the qua∣litie of that intercession which I shall make for them in heaven.
Eighthly, Patience and unweariednesse in Gods ser∣vice: Let us runne with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Authour and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the Crosse, despising the shame, and is sate downe at the right hand of the Throne of God, Heb. 12.1, 2, 3.
Lastly, Confidence in our approches to the throne of Grace: Seeing then that we have a great high Priest that is passed into the heavens, Iesus the Sonne of God, let us hold fast our profession, and come boldly unto the throne of Grace, Heb. 4.14.—16. And againe, This man after hee had offered one Sacrifice for sinnes for ever, sate downe on the right hand of God, from hence-forth expecting till his enemies be made his foot-stoole: from whence the Apostle inferreth, Having therefore boldnesse to enter into the Holiest by the bloud of Iesus; and having an high Priest over the house of God, Let us draw neere with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, &c. Heb. 10.12—23.
And all these things are certaine to us in the vertue of this Intercession of Christ: First, because the Father hea∣reth him, and answereth him, Ioh. 22.214.171.124. and ap∣pointed him to this office, Heb. 5.4, 5. Secondly, because the Father loveth us; I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himselfe loveth you, because you have loved me, &c. Ioh. 16.26, 27. Thirdly, because Page 438 as Christ hath a Prayer to intercede for us, so hath hee also a Power to conferre that upon us for which he inter∣cedeth. I will pray the Father, and he shall give you ano∣ther Comforter, Ioh. 14.16. If I goe not away, the Com∣forter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you, Ioh. 16.7. That which Christ by his prayer obtained for us, by his power hee conferreth upon us; and therefore in the Psalme he is said to Receive gifts for men, noting the fruit of his intercession, Psal. 68.18. and in the Apostle, to give gifts unto men, noting the power and fulnesse of his person, Ephes. 4.8. Having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which you now see and heare, Act. 2.33. Thus great, and thus certaine are the benefits which come un∣to the Church from the Intercession of Christ.
The fourth thing inquired into about the Priesthood of Christ, was, what is the Vertue, and fruits thereof, and they may be all comprized in two general words: there is Solutio de•its▪ the paiment of our debt, and Redundan∣tia meriti, an overplus, and redundancie of merit. Satis∣faction, whereby we are redeemed from under the Law; and an Acquisition, or purchase of an inheritance and priviledges for us. The obedience of Christ hath a dou∣ble relation in it, there is, first, Ratio legalis justitiae, the relation of a legall righteousnesse; as it beares exact and compleat conformitie to the Law, will, and decree of his Father. Secondly, there is ratio superlegalis meriti, the relation of a merit over and beyond the Law; for though it were nostrum debitum, that which we did necessarily owe, yet it was su•m indebitum, that which of himselfe he was not bound unto, but by voluntary susception, and covenant with his Father, for it was the bloud and obe∣dience of God himselfe.
Here then first is to be considered his payment of that debt which we did owe unto God, in which respect he is said to Beare our sinnes. To beare sinne, is to have the Page 439 burden of the guilt of sin and malediction of the Law to lye upon a man; so it is said, he that troubleth you, shall beare his judgement, Gal. 5.10. The sonne shall not beare the iniquity of the father, neither shal the father beare the iniquity of the sonne; the wickednesse of the wicked shal be upon him, Ezek. 18.20. So wrath is said to Abide on a man, Ioh. 3.36. and sin is said to be retained, or held in its place, Ioh. 20.23. So Christ is said to beare our sinnes in his body on the tree, 1 Pet. 2.24. Esay 53.4.6. and by so bearing them, hee tooke them off from us, cancel'd the obligations of the Law against us, and did all whatso∣ever was requisite to satisfie an offended Justice, for hee fulfilled the Law, which was our debt of service. It be∣commeth us to fulfill all righteousnesse, Matth. 3.15. and he endured the Crosse, and curse, the bloudy agonie, and ignominie of that death which was the debt of suffering, Heb. 12.2. and the covenant betweene him and his Fa∣ther was, that all that, should be done by him as our Head and surety, and so he was to taste death for every man, Heb. 2.9. Rom. 5.8. * So there is a Commutation allowed, that he should be in our stead, as it were, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, his soule a sacrifice, and his life a price, and his death a conquest of ours, and therefore is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, 1 Tim. 2.6. A price or ransome for all those in whose place he was made sin, and a curse, 2 Cor. 5.21. Gal. 3.13. Though he had not any Demerit or proper guilt of sinne upon him, which is a Deserving of punish∣ment (for that ever growes out of sin either personally in∣herent, or at least naturally imputed, by reason that he to whom it is accounted, was seminally and naturally con∣tained in the loines of him from whom it is on him deri∣ved) yet he had the guilt of sin so far as it notes an obli∣gation and subjection unto punishment, as hee was our surety, and so in sensu forensi, in the sight of Gods court of justice, one with us, who had deserved punishment, imputed unto him.
Page 440The fruit which redounds to us hereby, is the expia∣tion or remission of our sinnes by the imputing of his righ∣teousnesse unto us. This is my bloud of the new Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins, Mat. 26.28. In whom we have redemption through his bloud, the forgivenesse of sinnes, according to the riches of his glory, Ephes. 1.7. Heb. 8.12. And this must needs be a wonder∣full mercy, to have so many thousand talents forgiven us, such an infinite weight taken off from our consciences, the penaltie and curse of so many sinnes removed from us: our naturall condition is to be an heire of everlasting vengeance, the object of Gods hatred and firy indigna∣tion, exiles from the presence of his glory, vessels fit and full of misery, written within and without with curses, to be miserable, to be all over miserable, to be without strength in our selves, to be without pity from other, to be without hope from God, to be without end of cur∣sednesse; this is the condition of a sinner, and from all this doth the mercy of God deliver us.
The manner whereby the satisfaction of Christ be∣comes profitable unto us, unto the remission of sinne and righteousnesse, is by Imputation, Rom. 126.96.36.199.5.19. No man is able to stand before Gods justice, for hee is a consuming fire, Heb. 12.29. No flesh can be righteous if he enter into judgement. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, Hab. 1.13. for his eyes are not eyes of flesh, Iob 10.4. Now all the world is guilty before God, and commeth short of his glory, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, it lieth in mischiefe, 1 Ioh. 5.19. and therefore must be justified by a forren righteousnesse, and that equall to the justice of∣fended, which is the righteousnesse of God unto us gra∣tiously imputed. Wee are justified freely by his grace, through the •edemption that is in Jesus Christ, Rom. 3.19—24.
To open this point of Iustification by imputed righte∣ousnesse: We must note that two things are pre-required Page 441 to denominate a man a righteous man. First, there must be extant a righteousnesse which is apt and able to justifie. Secondly, there must be a right and propriety to it, wher∣by it commeth to passe that it doth actually justifie. We must then first inquire what the righteousnesse is where∣by a man may be justified. Righteousnesse consisteth in a relation of rectitude and conformitie. God made man up∣right, but they have sought out many inventions, and turned into many crooked diverticles of their owne, Ec∣cles. 7.29. Deut. 32.5. A wicked man loveth crooked wayes, to wander up and downe in his owne course, Ier. 31.22. Hos. 4.16. whereas a righteous man loveth strait wayes, Heb. 12.13. Psal. 5.8. because righteousnesse con∣sisteth in rectitude: and this presupposeth some Rule, unto which this conformitie must referre. The primitive and originall prototype, or Rule of holinesse, is the righ∣teousnesse of God himselfe, so farre-forth as his Image is communicable to the creature, or at least so farre forth as it was at the first implanted in man: Be yee perfect, as your father which is in heaven is perfect, Matth. 5.48. It is not meant of his infinite perfection, (for it was the sin of Adam to aime at being as God, in absolutenesse and independent excellencie) but of that perfection of his, which is in the Word, set forth unto us for an Image and patterne whereunto to conforme our selves. Therefore the secondary rule of righteousnesse, or rather the same rule unto us revealed, is the Law of God written in his Word, in the which Gods holinesse, so farre as it is our example, exhibiteth it selfe to the soule, as the Sun doth communicate its light thorow the beame which con∣veyes it. Now in the Law there are two things; one principall, Obedience; the other secondary, Malediction, upon supposition of disobedience: Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the booke of the Law to doe them, Gal. 3.10. So then, upon supposition of the sinne of man, two things are required Page 442 unto Iustification, the expiation of sin, by suffering the curse, and the fulfilling of righteousnesse de novo, againe. Man created might have beene justified by obedience onely, but man lapsed cannot otherwise appeare righte∣ous in Gods sight, but by a double obedience, the one passive, for the satisfaction of his vindicative justice, as wee are his prisoners; the other active, in proportion to his remunerative justice, as we are his creatures.
But besides this that there must be a r•ghteousnesse extant, there is required in the person to be justified or denominated thereby a propriety thereunto, that it may be His righteousnesse, Ier. 33.16. Now there may be a two-fold proprietie to righteousnesse, according to a two-fold manner of unitie. (Vnitas enim praestantis est fundamentum proprietatis ad officium praestitum) First, there is a personall and individuall unity, whereby a man is unus in se, one in and by himselfe, and so hath pro∣prietie to a dutie performed, because it is performed in his owne person, and by himselfe alone. Secondly, there is a common unity, whereby a man is unus cum alio, one with another, or whereby many are unum in aliquo pri∣mo, one in and with some other thing which is the foun∣taine and originall of them all. And this is the ground of Righteousnesse imputed; for in the Law a man is justi∣fied by performing intire obedience in his owne person, for the Law requireth righteousnesse to be performed by a created and implanted strength, and doth not put, suppose, or indulge any common principle thereof out of a mans selfe: Therefore legall righteousnesse is most properly called Our owne righteousnesse, and is set in op∣position to the righteousnesse of God, or that which is by grace imputed, Rom. 10.3. Phil. 3.8, 9. Wee see then that in this matter of imputation either of sinne or righ∣teousnesse, for the cleering of God from any injustice or partiality in his proceedings, there must ever bee some unity or other betweene the parties, he whose fact is im∣puted, Page 443 and the other to whom it is imputed: It would be prodigious and against reason to conceive that the fall of Angels should be imputed unto men, becau•e men had no unity in condition either of nature, or covenant with the Angels, as we have in both with Adam.
This common unity is two-fold, either naturall, as be∣tweene us and Adam, in whom we were seminally con∣tained, and originally represented; for otherwise than in and with Adam there could at the beginning be no co∣venant made with mankinde, which should ex aequo reach unto all particular persons in all ages and places of the world: Or Voluntary, as betweene a man and his suretie, who, in conspectu fori, are but as one person. And this must be mutuall, the one party undertaking to doe for the other, and the other yeelding and consenting thereunto; as betweene us and Christ, for Christ volun∣tarily undertooke for us, and we by the Spirit of Christ are perswaded and made willing to consent, and by faith to cast our sins upon Christ, and to lay hold on him. And besides the will of the parties who are, the one by de∣fault, the other by compassion and suretiship engaged in the debt; there is required the will and consent of the Iudge, to whom the debt is due, and to whom it belong∣eth in the right of his jurisdiction, to appoint such a forme of proceeding for the recovery of his right, as may stand best with the honour of his person, and the satisfaction of his justice, who if he would, might in ri∣gour have refused any surety, and have exacted the whole debt of those very persons by whose onely de∣fault it grew. And thus it comes to passe that by grace we have fellowship with the second Adam, as by na∣ture with the first, 1 Cor. 15.45—48. So then betweene Christ and us there must be an unity, or else there can be no imputation. And therefore it is that we are said to be justified by faith, and that faith is imputed for righteous∣nesse, Rom. 4.5. not the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉credere, the act of beleeving, Page 444 as if that were, in se, accounted righteousnesse, as it is a worke proceeding from us by grace; because it is Vincu∣lum and instrumentum unionis, the bond of union be∣tweene us and Christ, and by that meanes makes way to the imputation of Christs righteousnesse unto us. Therefore we are said to be buried, and crucified in and with Christ, by the vertue of faith concorporating Christ and a Christian together, and communicating the fel∣lowship of his sufferings and resurrection, Rom. 6.6. Gal. 6.14. Ephes. 3.17. Phil. 3.10. If I be lifted up, saith our Saviour, I will draw all men after me; crucem conscen∣dit, & me illuc adduxit, when Christ hanged on the crosse, we in a sort were there too. As in Adam we were all in Paradise, by a naturall and seminall vertue; so in Christ by a spiritual vertue, wherby in due time faith was to be begotten in us, and so we to have an actuall being of grace from him, as after our reall existence we have an actuall being of nature from Adam. Thus wee see that Christ did for us fulfill all righteousnesse, by his passive meriting and making satisfaction unto the remission of sinnes. By his active, covering our inabilities, and doing that in perfection for us, which we could not doe for our selves. First, he suffered our punishment, he was woun∣ded for our transgression, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed, Esay 53.5. If it be here objected, that an innocent person ought not to suffer for a nocent, for guilt is inseparable from sinne; The son shall not beare the iniquitie of his father, neither shall the father beare the iniquitie of the sonne, the soule that sinneth the same shall die, Ezek. 18.20. For the cleering of this objection, we must note that there is a two-fold manner of guilt (as I before touched) either such as growes out of sinne inhe∣rent, which is the deserving of punishment, as it is in us: or such as growes out of sinne imputed, and that not by reason of union naturall, as the guilt of Adams sinne is Page 445 imputed unto us (which manner of imputation is like∣wise funda•entum demeriti, and causeth us to deserve punishment) but voluntary by way of vadimony and sus∣ception. And so guilt is onely a free and willing obnoxi∣ousnesse unto that punishment which another hath de∣served. Amongst sinfull men it is true that the sonne shall not beare the punishment of the fathers sinne: first, because he is altogether personally distinct. Second∣ly, because he is not appointed so to doe, as Christ was, Ioh. 10.18. Thirdly, because hee is not able to beare them, so as to take them off from his father as Christ did ours: He was himselfe able to stand under our punish∣ment without sinking, and was able by suffering them, to take them off from us, because his person was an∣swerable in dignitie, and therefore (by the grace of God, and the act of his Divine jurisdiction in ordering the way to his owne satisfaction) equivalent in justice unto all ours. Fourthly, because he hath alreadie too many of his owne to beare. But yet, if the wil of the son goe along with the father in•sinning, it is not strange, nor unusuall for him to suffer for his fathers and his owne sin together, as for the continuation of the same offence; because, though hee doe not will the punishment, (as Christ did ours) yet imitating and continuing the sin, there is Volitum in causa, for the punishment too.
Now for an answer and resolution of the question,* whether an innocent person may suffer for a nocent, wee must note first that God out of his Dominion over all things, may cast paines upon an innocent person, as it is manifest he did upon Christ: And what ground of com∣plaint could any creature have against God, if he should have created it in fire, and made the place of its habitati∣on the instrument of its paine? Doe not wee our selves without cruelty upon many occasions put creatures that have not offended us unto paine?
Secondly, it is not universally against equity for one Page 446 to suffer the punishment of anothers sinne: we see the in∣fants of Sodome,* Babylon, Aegypt, of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, were involved in the punishment of those sinnes of which themselves were not guilty: The Lord reserveth to himselfe the punishment of the fathers on the children, hee punished the sinnes of three hundred and ninety yeares all together,*Ezek. 4.2.5. Cham com∣mitted the sinne, and yet Canaan was cursed for it. Gen. 9.22.25. The sinne was Gehezies alone, and yet the le∣prosie cleaved not to him onely but to his posterity.* 2 King. 5.27. The sinne of crucifying Christ was the Jewes in that age alone,* and yet wrath is come upon them to the uttermost even unto this day. Matth. 27.25. 1 Thes. 2.16. Achan trespassed alone, but he peri∣shed not alone but his sonnes,* and his daughters, and all that he had with him. Iosh. 7.24. 1 King. 21.21. Iudg. 9.56. 1 King. 2.33. Ierem. 22.30.
Thirdly, the equity hereof in the case of Christ doth herein plainely appeare, when all parties are glorified, and all parties are willing and well pleased, there is no in∣jury done unto any: and in this, the case is so; first, All parties are glorified, the Father is glorified in the obedi∣ence of his Sonne. I have both glorified my name, and I will glorifie it againe, Ioh. 12.27, 28. I have glorified thee on earth, I have finished the worke which thou gavest me to doe, Ioh. 17.4. The Sonne is glorified, Thou ma∣dest him a little lower than the Angels, and crownedst him with glory and honour, Heb. 2.7. Ioh. 17.5. and the sinner is glorified, I will that where I am they may be also, that they may behold my glory, &c. Ioh. 17.24. secondly, All parties are willing; first, the Father is wil∣ling, for by his Ordination he appointed Christ to it, Act. 4.27, 28. by his love and tender Compassion he bestow∣ed Christ upon us, Ioh. 3.16. by his Divine Acceptati∣on hee rested well pleased in it, Matth. 17.5. in one word by his wonderfull Wisedome he fitted it to the ma∣nifestation Page 447 of his glory and mercy, to the reconciliation of him and his creature, and to the exaltation of his Sonne: secondly, the Sonne is willing, hee chearfully submitted unto it, Heb. 10.9. and freely loved us and gave himselfe unto us, Gal. 2.20. thirdly, the sinner is willing, and accepteth and relieth upon it, as wee have seene at large before in the third verse, so that there can bee no injury done to any party, where all are willing, and where all are glorified.
Fourthly, that an innocent person may thus in Iustice and equity suffer for a nocent, there is required (besides these acts of ordination in the supreme, of submission in the surety, and of consent in the delinquent) first, an inti∣mate and neere conjunction in him that suffereth with those that should have suffered. Severall unions and conjunctions there are, as Politike between the members and subjects in a state, and * thus is a commonwealth universally sinfull, a few righteous men may as parts of that sinfull society be justly subject to those temporary evils which the sinnes of the society have contracted, and the people may justly suffer for the sinnes of the Princes, 2 Sam. 24.17. and hee for theirs, 1 Sam. 12.25. secondly, Naturall, as betweene parents and chil∣dren, so the Lord visited the sinnes of Dathan upon his little ones, Numb. 16.27.33. thirdly, Mysticall as be∣tweene man and wife, so the Lord punished the sinnes of Amaziah the priest of Bethel by giving over his wife unto whoredome, Amos 7.17. and wee see in many ca∣ses the husband is liable to be charged and censured for the exorbitancies of his wife; fourthly, Stipulatory and by consent, as in the case of fidejussores or obsides, who are punished for the sinnes of others whom they repre∣sent, and in whose place they stand as a caution and mu∣niment against injuries which might be feared, as we see in the parable of the prisoner committed to the custody of another person, 1 King. 20.39-42. fifthly, Possesso∣ryPage 448 as betweene a man and his goods, and so wee finde that a man was to offer no beast for a sinne offering but that which was his owne, Levit. 5.6, 7. Now in all these respects there was in some manner conjunction be∣tweene us and Christ, He conversed amongst men, and was a member of that Tribe and society amongst whom he lived, and therefore was together with them under that Romane yoke which was then upon the people, and in that relation paid tribute unto Caesar: hee had the nature and seed of man and so was subject to all hu∣mane and naturall infirmities without sinne: Hee was mystically married unto his Church, and therefore was answerable for the debts and misdemeanours of the Church. He entred into covenant, and became suretie for man, and therefore was liable to mans engagements. Lastly, hee became the possession, in some sort, of his Church: whence it is that we are said to receive him, and to have him, 1 Ioh. 5.12. not by way of Dominion (for so we are his, 1 Cor. 6.19.) but by way of communion and propriety; and therefore though wee cannot offer him up unto God in sacrifice for our sinnes, yet we may in our faith and prayers shew him unto his Father, and hold him up as our owne armour and fence against the wrath of God, Rom. 13.14.
Secondly, there is required in the innocent person suf∣fering, that he have a free and full dominion over that from which hee parteth, in his suffering for another. As in suretiship, a man hath free dominion over his money, and therefore in that respect he may engage himselfe to pay another mans debt; but he hath not a free dominion over himselfe or his owne life, and therefore he may not part with a member of his owne in commutation for an∣others, (as Zaleucus did for his sonne) nor be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to lay downe his owne life for the delivering of another from death, except in such cases as the Word of God li∣miteth and alloweth. But Christ was Lord of his owne Page 449 life, and had therefore power to lay it downe and to take it up. And this power he had (though he were in all points subject to the Law as we are) not solely by vertue of the hypostaticall union, which did not for the time exempt him from any of the obligations of the Law, but by vertue of a particular command, constituti∣on, and designation to that service of laying downe his life. This commandement have I received of my Father, Ioh. 10.18.
Lastly, it is required that this Power be ample enough to breake thorow the sufferings he undertaketh, and to re-assume his life, and former condition againe. I have power to lay it downe, and I have power to take it up. So then the summe of all is this; by the most just, wise, and mercifull will of God, by his owne most obedient and voluntary susception, Christ Jesus, being one with us in a manifold and most secret union, and having full power to lay downe, and to take up his life againe by speciall command and allowance of his Father given him, did most justly, without injury to himselfe, or dishonour to, or injustice in his Father, suffer the punishment of their sinnes, with whom he had so neere an union, and who could not themselves have suffred them with obedience in their owne persons, or with so much glory to Gods justice, mercy and wisdome.
If it be here againe objected, that sin in the Scripture is said to be pardoned, which seems contrary to this pay∣ment and satisfaction. To answer this, wee must note, first, that in the rigour of the Law, N•xa seq•itur ca∣put, the delinquent himselfe is in person to suffer the pe∣naltie denounced, for the Law is, In the day that Thou eatest thou shalt dye; and the soule that sinneth it shall die. Every man shall beare his owne burthen, Gal. 6.5. So that the Law, as it stands in its owne rigour, doth not admit of any commutation, or substitution of one for an∣other. Secondly, therefore, that another person suffe∣ring Page 450 may procure a discharge to the person guilty, and be valide to free him, the will, consent and mercy of him to whom the infliction of the punishment belongeth must concurre, and his over-ruling power must dispence, though not with the substance of the Lawes demands, yet with the manner of execution, and with that rigour, which bindes wrath peremptorily upon the head onely of him that hath deserved it. So then wee see both these things doe sweetly concurre; first, a precedent satisfaction by paying the debt; and yet secondly, a true pardon and remission thereof to that partie which should have paid it, and out of mercy towards him, a dispencing with the rigor of that Law, which in strictnesse would not admit any other to pay it for him.
Thus wee see how Christ hath suffered our punish∣ment. Secondly, hee did all obedience, and fulfilled all actions of righteousnesse for us; for such an high Priest became us who is holy, harmelesse, undefiled, separate from sinners, Heb. 7.26. Hee came not into the world but for us, and therefore hee neither suffered, nor did any thing but for us. As the colour of the glasse is by the favor of the Sunne-beame shining through it made the color of the wall, not inherent in it, but relucent upon it, by an extrinsecall affection: so the righteousnesse of Christ by the favor of God is so imputed unto us, as that wee are quoad gratiosum Dei conspectum, righteous too. In which sense I understand those words, Hee hath not be∣held iniquitie in Iacob, neither hath he seen perversenesse in Israel, Num. 23.21. Though it is indeed in him, yet the Lord looketh on him as cloathed with the righteousnesse of Christ, and so is said not to see it, as the eye seeth the color of the glasse in the wall, and therefore cannot be∣hold that other inherent color of its owne, which yet it knoweth to bee in it.
Now of this Doctrine of Iustification by Christs righ∣teousnesse imputed wee may make a double use. First, it Page 451 may teach us that great dutie of selfe-deniall; wee see no righteousnesse will justifie us but Christs, and his will not consist but with the deniall of our owne. And surely what-ever the professions of men in word may bee, there is not any one dutie in all Christian Religion of more dif∣ficultie than this, to trust Christ onely with our salva∣tion. To doe holy duties of hearing, reading, praying, meditating, almesgiving, or any other actions of charity or devotion, and yet still to abhorre our selves and our workes, to esteeme our selves after wee have done all, unprofitable servants, and worthy of many st•ipes: to doe good things, and not to rest in them; to owne the shame and dung of our solemne services: when we have done all the good workes wee can, to say with Nehe∣miah, Remember mee, ô my God, concerning this, and spare me according to the greatnesse of thy mercie, Nehem. 13.22. and with David, To thee ô Lord, belongeth mercie, for thou renderest to every man according to his worke, Psal. 62.12. It is thy mercy to reward us according to the uprightnesse of our workes, who mightest in judge∣ment confound us for the imperfection of our workes. To give God the praise of our working, and to take to ourselves the shame of polluting his workes in us. There is no Doctrine so diametrally contrary to the merits of Christ, and the redemption of the world thereby, as justi∣fication by workes. No Papist in the world is or can bee more contentious for good workes than wee both in our Doctrine and in our prayers, and in our exhortations to the people. We say no faith justifieth us before God but a working faith, no man is righteous in the sight of men, nor to bee so esteemed, but by workes of holinesse; without holinesse no man shall see God, hee that is Christs is zea∣lous of good workes, purifieth himselfe even as hee is pure, and walketh as hee did in this world. Here onely is the difference; we doe them, because they are our Dutie, and testifications of our love and thankfulnesse to Christ, and Page 452 of the workings of his Spirit in our hearts; but wee dare not trust in them, as that by which wee hope to stand or fall before the tribunall of Gods Iustice, because they are at best mingled with our corruptions, and therefore doe themselves stand in need of a high Priest to take off their iniquity. Wee know enough in Christ to depend on, we never can finde enough in our selves. And this confi∣dence wee have, if God would ever have had us justified by workes, hee would have given us grace enough to fulfill the whole Law, and not have left a Prayer upon publike record for us every day to repeat, and to regu∣late all our owne Prayers by, forgive us our trespasses. For how dares that man say, I shall be justified by my workes, who must every day say, Lord forgive mee my sinnes, and bee mercifull unto mee a sinner. Nay though wee could fulfill the whole Law perfectly, yet from the guilt of sinnes formerly contracted wee could no other way bee justified, than by laying hold by faith on the satisfaction and sufferings of Christ.
Secondly, it may teach us confidence against all sinnes, corruptions, and temptations. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, &c. Satan is the blackest enemie, and sinne is the worst thing hee can al∣leage against mee, or my soule is or can bee subject unto; for Hell is not so evill as sinne. In as much as Hell is of Gods making, but sinne onely of mine. Hell is made a∣gainst mee, but sinne is committed against God. Now I know Christ came to destroy the workes, and to answer the arguments and reasonings of the Devill. Thou canst not stand before God, saith Satan, for thou art a grievous sinner, and he is a devouring fire. But faith can answere, Christ is able both to cover and to cure my sinne, to make it vanish as a miste, and to put it as farre out of mine owne sight, as the East is from the West. But thou hast nothing to doe with Christ, thy sinnes are so many and Page 453 so foule; surely the bloud of Christ is more acceptable to my soule, and much more honourable and pretious in it selfe, when it covereth a multitude of sinnes. Paul was a persecutor, a Blasphemer, and injurious, the greatest of all sinners, and yet hee obtained mercy, that hee might be for a patterne of all long-suffering to those that should after beleeve in Christ. If I had as much sinne upon my soule as thou hast, yet faith could unlade them all upon Christ, & Christ could swallow them all up in his mercy. But thou hast still nothing to doe with him, because thou continuest in thy sinne. But doth hee not call mee, invite me, beseech mee, command me to come unto him? If then I have a heart to answer his call, hee hath a hand to draw me to himselfe, though all the gates of Hell, and powers of darknesse, or sinnes of the world stood be∣tweene. But thou obeyest not this call. True indeed and pittifull it is, that I am dull of hearing, and slow of fol∣lowing the voice of Christ, I want much faith: but yet Lord thou dost not use, to quench the smoaking flax, or to breake the bruized reed; I beleeve, and thou art able to helpe mine unbeleefe. I am resolved to venture my soule upon thy mercy, to throw away all mine owne loading, and to cleave onely to this planck of salvation. But faith purifieth the heart, whereas thou art uncleane still. True indeed, and miserable man I am therefore, that the motions of sinne doe worke in my members. But yet Lord I hate every false heart; I delight in thy Law with mine innerman, I doe that which I would not, but I con∣sent to thy Law that it is good, I desire to know thy will, to feare thy name, & to follow thee whithersoever thou leadest mee. But these are but emptie velleities, the wishings and wouldings of an evill heart. Lord to me be∣longeth the shame of my failings, but to thee belongeth the glory of thy mercy and forgivenesse. Too true it is that I doe not all I should: but doe I allow my selfe in any thing that I should not? doe I make use of mine infir∣mities Page 454 to justifie my selfe by them, or shelter my selfe under them, or dispence with my selfe in them? though I doe not the things I should, yet I love them, and de∣light in them, my heart, and Spirit, and all the desires of my soule are towards them; I hate, abhorre, and fight with my selfe for not doing them. I am ashamed of mine infirmities, as the blemishes of my profession, I am weary of them, and groane under them as the burdens of my soule: I have no lust, but I am willing to know it, and when I know, to crucifie it. I heare of no further measure of grace, but I admire it, and hunger after it, and presse on to it. I can take Christ and affliction, Christ and persecution together. I can take Christ without the world, I can take Christ without my selfe. I have no unjust gaine, but I am ready to restore it. No time have I lost by earthly businesse from Gods service, but I am ready to redeeme it. I have followed no sinfull pleasure, but I am ready to abandon it, no evill company but I mightily abhorre it. I never sware an oath, but I can re∣member it with a bleeding conscience; I never neglected a duty but I can recount it with revenge and indigna∣tion. I doe not in any man see the Image of Christ, but I love him the more dearly for it, and abhorre my selfe for being so much unlike it. I know, Satan, I shall speed never the worse with God, because I have thee for mine enemie. I know I shall speed much the better, because I have my selfe for mine enemie. Certainly hee that can take Christ offer'd, that can in all points admit him, as well to purifie as to justifie, as well to rule as save, as well his grace as his mercie, neede not feare all the powers of darknesse, nor all the armies of the foulest sinnes which Satan can charge his conscience withall.
The second great vertue and fruit of the Priesthood of Christ was ex redundantia meriti, from the redundancy and overflowing of his merit. First, hee doth merit to have a Church; for the very being of the Church is the Page 455 effect of that great price which he payed; therefore the Church is called a purchased people, 1 Pet. 2.9. Ask of mee, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, Psal. 2.8. when hee made his soule an offering for sinne, hee did by that meanes see his seed, and divide a portion with the great, Esai. 53.10, 11, 12. The delivering and selecting of the Saints out of this present evill world was the end of Christs Sacrifice, Gal. 1.4. Secondly, hee did merit all such good things for the Church, as the great love of himselfe and his Father towards the Church did resolve to conferre upon it. They may I conceive be re∣duced to two heads: First, Immunitie from evill, what∣soever is left to bee removed after the payment of our debt, or taking off from us the guilt, and obligation unto punishment. Such are the Dominion of Sinne. Sinne shall not have dominion over you, Rom. 6.14. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Iesus, hath made mee free from the Law of Sinne and of Death, Rom. 8.2. He that committeth sinne is the servant of sinne; but if the Sonne shall make you free, you shall bee free indeed, Ioh. 8.34-36. Hee that is borne of God doth not commit sinne, 1 Ioh. 3.9. That is, he is not an artificer of sinne, one that maketh it his trade and profession, and therefore bringeth it to any perfe∣ction. Hee hath received a Spirit of Iudgement, that chai∣neth up his lusts, and a Spirit of burning, which worketh out his drosse, Esai. 4.4. Mal. 3.2, 3. Matth. 3.2. Such is, The Vanity of our Minde, whereby wee are naturally unable to thinke, or to cherish a good thought, 2 Cor. 3.5. Eph. 4.17. The Ignorance, and hardnesse of our hearts, unable to perceive, or delight in any spirituall thing, Eph. 4.18. Ioh. 1.5. Luk. 24, 25.45. The Spirit of disobedience and habituall strangenesse and aversenesse from God, Eph. 4.18. Iob 20.14. Such are also all those slavish, affrightfull, and contumacious effects of the Law in terrifying the conscience, irritating the concupiscence, and compelling the froward heart to an unwilling and Page 456 unwelcome conformitie. The Law is now made our counseller, a delight to the inner man, that which was a lion before, hath now food and sweetnesse in it.
Secondly, Many Priviledges and dignities in the ver∣tue of that principall and generall one, which is our uni∣tie unto Christ; from whence by the fellowship of his holy and quickning Spirit, wee have an unction which teacheth us his wayes, and his voyce, which sanctifieth our nature, by the participation of the divine nature, that is, by the renewing of Gods most holy and righteous Image in us. Which sanctifieth our Persons, that they may bee spirituall Kings and Priests. Kings, to order our owne thoughts, affections, desires, studies towards him, to fight with principalities, powers, corruptions, and spi∣rituall enemies. Priests, to offer up our bodies, soules, prayers, thanksgivings, almes, spirituall services upon that Altar, which is before his mercy-seate, and to slay and mortifie our lusts and earthly members; which sanctifieth all our actions, that they may bee services to him and his Church, acceptable to him, and profitable to others. Se∣condly, from this unity with him growes our adoption, which is another fruit of his Sacrifice. Hee was made of a woman, made under the Law, that wee might re∣ceive The Adoption of Sonnes, Gal. 4.5. By which wee have free accesse to call upon God in the vertue of his Sacrifice, sure supplies in all our wants, because our hea∣venly Father knoweth all our needs, a most certaine in∣heritance, and salvation in hope; for we are already saved by hope, Rom. 8.24. and Christ is to us the Hope of Glory, Col. 1.27. Lastly, there is from hence our exaltation, in our finall victory and resurrection, by the fellowship and vertue of his victory over death, as the first fruits of ours, 1 Cor. 15.20.49. Phil. 3.21. And in our complete sal∣vation, being carried in our soules and bodies to be pre∣sented to himselfe without spot and blamelesse, Eph. 5.26, 27. and to bee brought unto God, 1 Pet. 3.18. Now Page 457 to take all in one view, what a summe of mercy is here together. Remission of all sinnes, discharge of all debts, deliverance from all curses; joy, peace, triumph, security, exaltation above all evils, enemies, or feares; a peculiar, purchased, roiall seed, (the gift of God the Father to his Sonne) deliverance from the dominion and service of all sinne, vanity, ignorance, hardnesse, disobedience, bon∣dage, coaction, terror; sanctification of our persons, na∣tures, lives, actions; adoption, hope, victory, resurrection, salvation, glory. O what a price was that which pro∣cured it? O what manner of persons ought we to bee for whom it was procured?
The fifth thing to be spoken of about the Priesthood of Christ I shall dispatch in one word, which is the Duty wee owe upon all this. First, then wee should not re∣ceive so great a grace in vaine, but by faith lay hold upon it, and make use of it. Let us feare, saith the Apostle, lest a promise being left us, of entring into his rest, any of you should seeme to come short of it; for unto us was the Go∣spell preached as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it, Heb. 4.1, 2. God in Christ is but reconcileable unto us, One with us in his good will, and in his procla∣mation of peace. When two parties are at variance, there is no actuall peace without the mutuall consent of both againe; till wee by faith give our consent, and actually turne unto God, and seeke his favor, and lay hold on the mercy which is set before us; though God be one, in that hee sendeth a mediator, and maketh tender of reconcile∣ment with us, yet this grace of his is to us in vaine, because wee continue his enemies still. The Sunne is set in the heavens for a publike light, yet it benefiteth none but those who open their eyes, to admit and make use of its light. A court of justice or equity is a publike sanctuary, yet it actually relieveth none but those that seek unto it. Christ is a publike and universall salvation, set up for all Page 458 comers, and appliable to all particulars, Ioh. 3.16. Hee is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Pet. 3.9. Hee tasted death for every man, Heb. 2.9. But all this is not beneficiall unto life, but onely to those that receive him. Onely those that receive him are by these mercies of his made the Sonnes of God, Ioh. 1.12. without faith they abide his enemies still. God in Christ publisheth himselfe a God of peace and unity towards us, Gal. 3.20. And setteth forth Christ as an all-sufficient treasure of mercy to all that in the sense of their owne misery will fly unto him, Revel. 22.17. But till men beleeve, and are thus willing to yeeld their owne consents, and to meete his reconciliation towards them, with theirs towards him, his wrath abideth upon them still; for by beleeving onely he will have his sonnes death actually effectuall, though it were sufficient before. O therefore let us not venture to beare the wrath of God, the curse of sinne, the weight of the Law, upon our owne shoulders, when wee have so present a remedie, and so willing a friend at hand to ease us.
Secondly, we should labour to feele the vertue of the Priesthood and Sacrifice of Christ working in us, pur∣ging our consciences from dead workes, renewing our nature, cleansing us from the power and pollution of sinne; for when by the hand of faith, and the sweete ope∣ration of the Spirit wee are therewithall sprinkled, wee shall then make it all our study to hate, and to forbeare sinne, which squeezed out so pretious bloud, and wrung such bitter cries from so mercifull a high Priest; to live no longer to our selves, that is, secundum hominem, as men, 1 Cor. 3.3. Hos. 6.7. After our owne lusts and wayes: but (as men that are not their owne, but his that bought them,) to live in his service, and to his glory, 1 Cor. 6.19, 20, 2 Cor. 5.14. 1 Pet. 4.2. All that wee can doe is too little to answere so great love. Love to emptie himselfe, to humble himselfe, to bee God in the flesh, to bee God Page 459 on a Crosse, to take off from us the hatred, fury and ven∣geance of his Father, to restore us to our primitive purity & condition againe. Why should it be esteemed a need∣lesse thing to bee most rigorously conscionable, & exact∣ly circumspect, in such a service as unto which wee are engaged with so infinite, and unsearchable bounty? Hee payed our debt to the uttermost farthing, drunk every drop of our bitter Cup, and saved us 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, throughly: why should not wee labour to performe his service, and to fulfill every one of his most sweete commands to the uttermost too?
Thirdly, wee should learne to walke before him with all reverence and feare, as men that have received a Kingdome which cannot bee moved, Heb. 12.28. And with frequent consideration of the high Priest of our profession, that we may not in presumption of his mercy, harden our hearts, or depart from God, Heb. 3.1.8. But in due remembrance of the end of his Sacrifice, which was to purchase to himselfe a peculiar people, be zealous of all good workes, Tit. 2.14.
Fourthly, we should learne confidence and boldnesse towards him, who is a great, a faithfull, and a mercifull high Priest; this use the Apostle makes of it. Seeing we have a great high Priest-let us hold fast our profession-and come with boldnesse unto the throne of grace, Heb. 4.14, 15, 16. And againe, Having therefore boldnesse to enter into the holiest by the bloud of Iesus-and having an high Priest over the house of God, let us draw neere with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, &c. Heb. 10.19-22.
Fifthly, wee learne perseverance and stedfastnesse in our profession, because he is able to carry u• through and save us to the uttermost. This is that which indeed makes us partakers of Christ. Wee are made partakers of him, if wee hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast to the end, Heb. 3.14. The considering of him, of his perseverance in finishing his owne worke, and our faith, and his power Page 460 and ability to save us to the uttermost, will keepe us from fainting in our service and the profession we have taken, Heb. 12.2, 3.10.23.
Sixthly, we have hereby accesse to present our prayers, and all our spirituall Sacrifices upon this Altar, sprinkled with the bloud of that great Sacrifice, and liberty to come unto God by him who liveth to make intercession for us, Heb. 7.25. In him wee have accesse with confidence by faith, Eph. 3.12. Therefore the Lord is said to have his eyes open to our Prayers, to hearken unto them, 1 Kings. 8.52. Because hee first looketh upon our Per∣sons in Christ, before hee receiveth or admitteth any of our services.
Lastly, wee ought frequently to celebrate the memo∣rie, and to commemorate the Benefits of this Sacrifice wherein God hath been so much glorified, and wee so wonderfully saved. Therefore the Lord hath of purpose instituted a sacred ordinance in his Church, in the roome of the Paschall Lambe, that as that was a prefiguration of Christs death expected, so this should to all ages of the Church bee a resemblance and commemoration of the same exhibited. So often as yee eate this Bread, and drinke this Cup, yee shew forth the Lords death till hee come, 1 Cor. 11.26. For in the ordinances hee is crucified before our eyes, Gal. 3.1. Therefore the Apostle more than once inferres from the consideration of this Sacrifice and office of Christ, our dutie of not forsaking the assem∣blies of the Saints, and of exhorting and provoking one another, Heb. 188.8.131.52, 25.
Now I proceed to the last thing mentioned in the words concerning the Priest-hood of Christ, and that is about the Order of it. Thou art a Priest [for ever after the Order of Melchisedek.] Secundum verbum, or secun∣dum morem & rationem: the Apostle readeth it 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, according to the Order of Melchisedeks Priesthood. Of this Melchisedek, wee finde mention made but in two Page 461 places onely of the whole Old Testament, and in both very briefly; the first in the History of Abraham retur∣ning from the slaughter of the Kings, when Melchisedek, being the Priest of the most high God, brought forth bread and wine, and blessed him, Gen. 14.18, 19, 20. and the other in this place. And for this cause the things con∣cerning him, and his Order are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, hard to bee un∣derstood, Heb. 5.11. It was so then, and so it would bee still, if S. Paul had not cleered the difficulties, and shew∣ed wherin the Type and the Antitype did fully answere; which hee hath largely done in Heb. 7.
For understanding and cleering the particulars which are herein considerable,* here are some questions which offer themselves. First, who Melchisedek was? Secondly, what is meant by 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, his Order? Thirdly, why Christ was to bee a Priest after his Order, and not after Aarons? Fourthly, why hee brought forth bread and wine? Fifthly, what kinde of blessing it was with which hee blessed Abraham? Sixthly, in what manner he received Tithes? Lastly, in what sense hee was without Father, and without Mother, without beginning of dayes, or end of life?
First, for Melchisedek, who hee was, much hath been said by many men, and with much confidence. a Some hereticks of old affirmed that hee was the Holy Ghost.b Others that hee was an Angell.c Others that hee was Sem the Sonne of Noah.d Others that hee was a Cana∣anite, extraordinarily raised up by God to be a Priest of the Gentiles. e Others that hee was Christ himselfe, ma∣nifest by a speciall dispensation and priviledge unto A∣braham in the flesh, who is said to have seen his day, and rejoyced, Ioh. 8.56. Difference also there is about Salem, the place of which hee was King. Some take it for Ieru∣salem, as *Iosephus, and most of the ancients. Others for a citie in the halfe tribe of Manasse, within the River Iordan, where Hierom reports that some •uines of the Page 462 palace of Melchisedek were in his dayes conceived to re∣maine. Tedious I might be in insisting on this point who Melchisedek was. But when I finde the Holy Ghost purposely concealing his name, genealogie, beginning, ending, and descent, and that to speciall purpose; I cannot but wonder that men should toile themselves in the darke to finde out that of which they have not the least ground of solide conjecture, and the inevidence whereof is expressely recorded, to make Melchisedek thereby the fitter type of Christs everlasting Priesthood.
Secondly, what is meant by 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 It is as much as the state, condition, or prescribed Rule of Melchisedek; and that was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, After the power of an end∣lesse life, Heb. 7.16. Not by a corporeall unction, legall ceremony, or the intervening act of a humane ordination: but by a heavenly institution, and immediate unction of the Spirit of Life, by that extraordinary manner whereby hee was to bee both King and Priest unto God, as Mel∣chisedek was.
Thirdly, Why was hee not a Priest after the order of Aaron? The Apostle giveth us an answere, Because the Law made nothing perfect, but was weake and unprofi∣table, and therefore was to bee abolished, and to give place to another Priesthood. Men were not to rest in it, but by it to bee led to him who was to abolish it, Heb. 7.11, 12. as the morning-starre leadeth to the sunne, and at the rising thereof vanisheth. The ministery and promises of Christ were better than those of the Law; and therefore his Priest-hood, which was the office of dispencing them, was to be more excellent likewise, Heb. 8 6. For when the Law and covenant were to bee abo∣lished, the Priesthood in which they were established, was to die likewise.
Fourthly, Why Melchisedek brought forth bread and wine? The Papists, that they may have something to build the idolatry of their masse upon, make MelchisedekPage 463 to Sacrifice bread and wine, as a Type of the Eucharist. I will not fall into so tedious a controversie, as no way tending to edification, and infinite litigations there have been between the parts already about it. In one word; Wee grant that the Ancients doe frequently make it a Type of the Eucharist but onely by way of allusion,* not of literall prediction, or strict prefiguration; as that, out of Egypt have I called my Sonne, and in Rama was there a voyce heard, which were literally and historically true in another sense, are yet by way of allusion applied by the Evangelist unto the History of Christ, Matth. 2.15.18. But wee may note; first, it is not Sacrificavit, but Protulit, hee brought it forth, he did not offer it up.* Se∣condly, he brought it forth to Abraham as a Prince to entertaine him after his conquest, as Iosephus, and from him Cajetan understand it; not as a Priest to God. Thirdly, hee, if hee did offer, he offered bread and wine truely, these men, onely the lying shapes thereof, and not bread and wine it selfe which they say are transubstan∣tiated into another thing. Fourthly, the Priest-hood of Melchisedek as Type, and of Christ as the substance, was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Priesthood which could not passe unto any other either as successor or vicar to one or the other, and it was onely by divine and immediate unction; but the Papists make themselves Priests by humane and ecclesi∣asticall ordination to offer that which they say Melchi∣sedek offered; and by that meanes most insolently make themselves either successors, or vicars, or sharers, and co-partners and workers together with him and his Anti∣type, Christ Iesus, in the offices of such a Priesthood as was totally uncommunicable, and intransient, Heb. 7.24. and so most sacril•giously rob him of that honor which hee hath assumed to himselfe as his peculiar office.
Fifthly, what kinde of blessing it was wherewith Mel∣chisedek blessed Abraham? To this I answer, that there is a twofold Benediction. The one Charitativa, o•t of Page 464 love, and so any man may blesse another by way of eu∣precation or well wishing: The blessing of the Lord bee upon you, we blesse you in the name of the Lord, Psal. 129.8. the other Autoritativa, as a King, a Priest, an extraordi∣nary superiour and publike person, by a way of office, and to the purpose of effecting, and reall conveying the blessing it selfe desired: without all contradiction, saith the Apostle, the lesse is blessed of the greater, Hebr. 7.7. and such was this of Melchisedek. Benedictio obsignans, a seale, assurance, and effectuall confirmation of the pro∣mise before made, Gen. 12.2, 3.
Sixthly, in what manner he received Tithes? I an∣swer with Calvin,* that he had Ius decimarum, and re∣ceived them as testifications of homage, duty, and obe∣dience from Abraham; for the Apostle useth it as argu∣ment to prove his greatnes above Abraham, which could be no argument in the case of pure gift. Since gifts, qu•∣tenus gifts, though they prove not a generall inferioritie in him that receives them, yet they prove that in that case there is something which may be imputed, and which deserves acknowledgement. But in this particular all the acknowledgements are from Abraham to Melchisedek. Besides, nothing was here by Abraham or Melchisedek done after an arbitrary manner, but Extraordinario spi∣ritus afflatu & ex officio, on both sides, as learned Came∣ron hath observed.
Lastly, in what sense hee was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. without father, mother, or genealogie? I answer with Chrysostome,* that it is not meant literally and strictly; but onely the Scripture takes notice of him as an extra∣ordinary man, without signifying his line, beginning, end, or race, (as Tiberius said of Rufus, that he was Ho∣mo ex se natus) that so he might be the fitter to typifie Christs person and excellencie in whom those things were really true, which are onely quoad nos, spoken of the type, of whose beginning, end, or parentage, wee Page 465 neither have, nor can have any knowledge. These things thus premised, it will bee easie for you to preoccupate those observations, which grow betweene the Type and the Antitype, which therefore I will but cursorily propose.
Note, first, that Christs Priesthood is such as did in∣duce a kingdome with it, for Melchisedek was King of Salem, and Priest of the most high God.] This, Saint Hie∣rom, and from him Ambrose, report to have been meant by the order of Melchisedek, namely, Regale Sacerdoti∣um, that Christ was to be a Royall Priest. By way of merit purchasing a kingdome of his Father, and by way of conquest recovering it to himselfe out of the hands of his enemies; this mystery was obscurely intimated, in the marriages allowed between the regall and sacerdo∣tall tribes of Iuda and Levi, which confusion was in the other Tribes interdicted, as I have before observed.
Note, secondly, that Christ by offering up himselfe a Sacrifice unto God, is become unto his people a King of Righteousnesse, or the Lord our righteousnesse: in which sense he is called The Prince of life, Act. 3.15. that is, he hath all power given him as a Prince, to quicken, and to justifie whom hee will, Ioh. 5.20, 21. And this comes from his Sacrifice and perfect obedience to us imputed, and by us with faith implyed and apprehended; for ha∣ving fulfilled the righteousnesse of the Law, and justi∣fied himselfe by rising from the dead, he became, being thus made perfect, the Author of righteousnesse and sal∣vation to us, Heb. 5.9. We had in us a whole kingdome of sin, and therefore requisite there was in him that should justifie us a kingdome of Grace, and righteousnesse, That as sinne raigned unto death, even so might Grace through righteousnesse raigne unto eternall life by Iesus Christ our Lord, Rom. 5.21. and therefore wee are said to be justi∣fied by the righteousnesse of God, Rom. 3.21, 22. that is, such a righteousnesse as is ours by gift and grace, not by Page 466 nature, Rom. 10.3. and such a righteousnesse as God him∣se•fe did performe, though in the humane nature, in our behalfe, Act. 20.28. Phil. 2.6, 7, 8.
And this is the ground of all our comfort, the best di∣rection in all our miseries and extremities whither to flie. A King is the greatest officer amongst men, and his ho∣nour and state is for the supply, defence, and honour of his people: He is Custos Tabularum, the Father, and the Keeper of the Lawes. If I want any of that justice and equity, of which his sacred Bosome is the publike trea∣sure, I may freely beg it of him, because he is an Officer to dispence righteousnesse unto his subjects; so also is Christ unto his Church. I finde my selfe in a miserable condition, condemned by the conscience of sinne, by the testimony of the Word, by the accusations of Satan, full of discomforts; God is a God of justice, and all fire, my selfe a creature of sin, and all stubble; Satan the ac∣cuser of the brethren, who labours to blow up the wrath of God against me. In this case what shall I doe? Sure∣ly God hath set his King on Sion; and he is a King that hath life and righteousnesse to give to mee; that hath grace enough to quench all sin, and the envenomed darts of Satan, in whom there is erected a court of peace and mercy, whereunto to appeale from the severity of God, from the importunity of the Devill, and from the accu∣sations and testimonies of our owne hearts. And indeed he had need be a King of righteousnesse that shall justi∣fie men, for our justification is in the remission of our sins; and to pardon sins, and dispence with Lawes is a regall dignitie; and God taketh it as his owne high and peculiar prerogative, I, even I am he who blotteth out thine iniquity for mine owne sake, and will not remember thy sinnes, Esay 43.25. No man, or Angell, or created power, no merit, no obedience, no rivers of oyle, nor mountaines of cattell, no prayers, teares, or torments, can wipe out the staines, or remove the guilt of any Page 467 sinne, I onely, even I and none else can doe it. None but a Divine and Royall Power can subdue sinne, Mica 7.18.
And this is a ground of a second comfort, that being a King of righteousnesse he is rich in it, and hath treasures to bestow; that as we have a kingdome, a treasure, and abundance of sin; so we have a King that hath alwayes a residue of spirit and grace, that hath a most redundant righteousnesse from faith to faith, Rom. 1.17. A mans faith can never over-grow the righteousnesse of our King. If we had all the faith that ever was in the world put into one man, all that could not over-claspe the righ∣teousnesse of Christ, or be too bigge for it. As if a man had a thousand eyes, and they should one after another looke on the Sunne, yet still the light would be revealed from eye to eye; or as if a man should goe up by ten thousand steps to the top of the highest mountaine, yet he could never over-looke all the earth, or fix his eye be∣yond all visible objects, but should still have more earth and heaven discovered unto him from step to step: so there is an immensitie in the righteousnesse and mercy of God, which cannot be exhausted by any sins, or over∣looked, and comprehended by any faith of men. As God dot•〈◊〉 and more reveale himselfe, and the righ∣teousnesse of Christ unto the soule, so man maketh fur∣ther progresses from faith to faith. And therefore wee should learne everlasting thankfulnesse unto this our King, that is pleased to bee unto us a Melchisedek, a Priest to satisfie his Fathers justice, and a Prince to be∣stow his owne.
Note thirdly, Melchisedek was King of Salem, that is, of Peace. Here are two things to be noted, the Place, a Citie of the Canaanites, and the signification thereof, which is Peace: First then we must observe, that Christ is a King of Canaanites, of Gentiles, of those that lived in abominable lusts: Such were some of you, but you are Page 468 washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Iesus, 1 Cor. 6.11. Be a man never so sinfull or uncleane, he hath not enough to pose or non∣plus the mercy and righteousnesse of Christ; hee can bring reconciliation and peace amongst Jebusites them∣selves; though our father were an Amorite, our mother an Hittite, though wee were Gentiles, estranged from God in our thoughts, lives, hopes, ends: though we had justified Sodome and Samaria by our abominations, yet he can make us nigh by his bloud, he can make our crimsin sins as white as snow, he can for all that establish an ever∣lasting covenant unto us, Ephes. 2.11—14. Esay 1.18. E∣zek. 16.60—63. I was a blasphemer, a persecutour, very injurious to the Spirit of Grace in his Saints, I wasted, I worried, I haled into prison, I breathed out threatnings, I was mad, & made havocke of the Church, I was with∣in one step of the unpardonable sinne, nothing but igno∣rance betweene that and my soule; Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in mee first Iesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a patterne to them who should hereafter beleeve on him to life everlasting, saith Saint Paul, 1 Tim. 1.13—16.
Let us make Saint Pauls use of it: First, To love and to beleeve in Christ, to accept as a most faithfull and wor∣thy saying, that Christ came to save sinners; indefinitely, without restriction, without limitation; and me, though the chiefest of all others. Though I had more sinnes than earth or hell can lay upon me, yet if I feele them as heavie weights, and if I am willing to forsake them all, let me not dishonour the power and unsearchable riches of Christs bloud, even for such a sinner there is mercy. Secondly, To breake forth into Saint Pauls acknowledge∣ment, Now unto the King eternall, immortall, invisible, and onely wise God, to him that is a King of righteous∣nesse, and therefore hath abundance for me, that is eter∣nall, and yet was borne in time for me; immortall, yet Page 469 died for me; invisible, yet was manifested in the flesh for me, the onely wise God, and who made use of that wis∣dome, to reconcile himselfe to mee, and by the foolish∣nesse of preaching doth save the world; bee honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Secondly, from the signification of the word, we may note, Where Christ is a King of righteousnesse, hee is a King of Peace too. So the Prophet calleth him, the Prince of Peace, Esay 6.9. a Creator and dispencer of peace. It is his owne by proprietie and purchace, and he leaves it unto us: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you, Ioh. 14.27. The world is either fallax or inops, either it deceives, or it is deficient; but Peace is mine, and I can give it. There∣fore as the Prophet Ieremie calleth him by the name of Righteousnesse, Ier. 33.16. So the Prophet Micah calleth him by the name of Peace, This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our Land, Mic. 5.5. To which Saint Paul alleaging, calleth him 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, our peace, Ephes. 2.14. By him we have peace with God, be∣ing reconciled, and recti in curia againe, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Ie∣sus Christ, Rom. 5.1. so that the heart can chalenge all the world to lay any thing to its charge. By him wee have peace with our owne consciences, for being sprinkled with his bloud, they are cleansed from dead workes, and so we have the witnesse in our selves, as the Apostle spea∣keth, Heb. 9.14. 1 Ioh. 5.10. Rom. 8.16. By him wee have peace with men. No more malice, envie, or hatred of one another, after once the kindnesse and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, Tit. 3.3, 4. All par∣tition wals are taken downe, and they which were two before, are both made one in him, Ephes. 2.14. and then there is towards the brethren a love of communion, towards the weake a love of pitie, towards the poore a love of bounty, either 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, 2 Pet. 1.7. either Page 470 brotherly love, or generall love, towards those without mercy, charity, compassion, forgivenes, towards al good works. By him we have peace with the creatures, we use them with comfort, with liberty, with delight, with pie∣ty, with charity, with mercy, as glasses in the which we see, and as steps by the which we draw neerer to God. No rust in our gold or silver, no moth, nor pride in our garment, no lewdnes in our liberty, no hand against the wall, no flying roll against the stone or beame of the house, no gravell in our bread, no gall in our drinke, no snare on our table, no feares in our bed, no destruction in our prosperitie; in all estates we can rejoyce, we can doe and suffer all through Christ that strengtheneth us. We are under the custodie of peace; it keepes our hearts and mindes from feares of enemies, and maketh us serve the Lord with confidence, boldnesse and securitie, Phil. 4.7. The workes of righteousnesse are in peace, and the effect of righteousnesse is quietnesse and assurance for ever.*
Note fourthly, from both these, that is, from a peace grounded in righteousnesse, needs must Blessednesse re∣sult, for it is the blessednesse of a creature to be reunited, and one with his Maker, to have all controversies ended, all distances swallowed up, all partitions taken downe, and therefore the Apostle useth Righteousnesse and Bles∣sednes as terms promiscuous.* All men seek for blessednes, it is the summe and collection of all desires, a man loveth nothing but in order & subordination unto that. And by nature wee are all children of wrath, and held under by the curse, so many sinnes as we have committed, so many deaths & curses have we heaped upon our soules, so ma∣ny wals of separation have we set up between us & God, who is the fountaine of blessednesse. Till all they be co∣vered, removed, forgiven and forgotten, the creature can∣not be blessed. Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgi∣ven, and whose sinnes are covered, Rom. 4.7. All the be∣nedictions which wee have from the most high God Page 471 come unto us from the intercession and mediation of Christ. His sacrifice and prayers give us interest in the all-sufficiencie of him that is above all, and so are a se∣curity unto us against all adverse power or feare, for what or whom need that man feare, that is one with the most high God? If God be for us, who can be against us? Rom. 8.31. When God blesseth, his blessing is ever with ef∣fect and successe, it cannot be reversed, it cannot be dis∣appointed: Hath he said, and shall he not doe it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, saith Ba∣laam, I have received commandement to blesse, and hee hath blessed, and cannot reverse it, Numb. 23.19, 20.
Note fifthly, from Melchisedeks meeting Abraham returning from the slaughter of the Kings, we may ob∣serve the great forwardnesse that is in Christ to meet and to blesse his people, when they have beene in his service. Thou meetest him that rejoyceth and worketh righteous∣nesse, Esay 64.5. I said I will confesse my sinnes, and thou forgavest the iniquitie of my sinne, Psal. 32.5. No sooner did David resolve in his heart to returne to God, but presently the Lord prevented him with his mercy, and anticipated his servants confession with pardon and for∣givenesse; Thou preventest him with the blessings of good∣nesse, Psal. 21.3. As the father of the Prodigall, when he was yet a great way off, far from that perfection which might in strictnesse be required, yet, because hee had set his face homeward, and was now resolved to sue for par∣don and re-admittance; when he saw him, he had com∣passion, and ranne (the fathers mercy was swi•ter than the sonnes repentance) and fell on his necke and kissed him, Luke 15.20. We doe not finde the Lord so hastie in his punishments, He is slow to anger, and doth not stirre up all his wrath together. He is patient, and long-suffe∣ring, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance; hee comes, and hee comes againe, and the third yeere he forbeares, before he cuts Page 472 downe a barren tree: But when hee comes with a bles∣sing, hee doth not delay, but prevents his people with goodnesse and mercy. O how forward ought we to be to serve him, who is so ready to meet us in his way, and to blesse us?
Note sixthly, from the refection and preparations which Melchisedek made for Abraham and for his men, we may observe, That Christ as King and Priest is a comforter and refresher of his people in all their spirituall wearinesse, and after all their services. This was the end of his unction to heale, and to comfort his people. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because hee hath annoin∣ted me to preach the Gospell to the poore, he hath sent mee to heale the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and a recovering of sight to the blinde, to set at li∣bertie them that are bruized, and to preach the acceptable yeare of the Lord, Luke 4.18, 19. To provide a feast of fatted things, of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined, Esay 25.6. To mi•ke out unto his people consolations and abundance of glory, Esay 66.11. To speake words in season to those that are weary, and to make broken and dry bones to rejoyce, and to flourish like an herb, Esay 50.4. Psal. 51.8. Esay 66.14.
And this is a strong argument to hold up the patience, faith, and hope of men in his service, and in all spirituall assaults; we have a Melchisedek which after our com∣bate is ended, and our victory obtained will give us re∣freshments at the last, and will meet us with his mercies. If we faint not, but wait a while, we shall see the salva∣tion of the Lord, that in the end he is very pitifull and of tender mercy, Exod. 14.13. Iam. 5.11. He is neere at hand, his comming draweth nigh: He is neere that justi∣fieth mee, who will contend with m•e? Let us stand toge∣ther. Who is mine adversary? let him come neere to me. The readinesse of the Lord to helpe is a ground of Page 473 challenge and defiance to al enemies, Phil. 4.5. Iam. 5.8. Esai. 50.8, 9. Iob went forth mourning, and had a great warre to fight; but the Lord blessed his latter end more than his beginning, and after his battle was ended met him like Melchizedek with redoubled mercies. David, Hezekiah, Heman the Ezrahite, and many of the Saints after their example, have had sore and dismall conflicts, but at length their comforts have beene proportionable to their wrestlings, they never wanted a Melchizedek after their combats to refresh them. Rejoyce not against mee, O mine enemie, when I fall I shall rise, when I sit in darkenesse the Lord shall bee a light unto me: I will beare the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him untill he plead my cause and execute judgement for me, he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousnesse, Mic. 7.8, 9. He hath strength, cou∣rage, refection, spirit, to put into those that fight his battles, though they bee but as Abraham, a family of three hundred men, against foure kings, yet hee can cut Rahab, and wound the dragon, and make a way in the sea for the ransomed to passe over, and cause his redeemed to returne with singing, and with joy and gladnesse upon their heads, I, even I am he that comforteth you, who art thou that shouldest bee affraid of a man that shall dye, and of the sonne of man that shall bee as grasse? Esai. 51.12.
Note, seventhly, from Melchisedeks receiving of tithes from Abraham (which the Apostle taketh speciall notice of foure or five times together in one Chapt. Heb. 7.2, 4, 6, 8, 9.) we may observe, That Christ is a receiver of ho∣mage and tribute from his people; There was never any type of Christ as a Priest, but he received tithes, and that not in the right of any thing in himselfe, but meerely in the vertue of his typicall office, so that originally they did manifestly pertaine to that principall Priest, whom these represented, whose personall * priesthood is stan∣ding, Page 474 unalterable, and eternall, and therefore the rights thereunto belonging are such too.
If it objected, why then did not Christ in his life re∣ceive tithes? I answer, first, because though hee were the substance, yet the standing typicall priesthood was not abolished till after his ministery on earth was finished, for his priesthood was not consummate till his sitting at the right hand of God: secondly, because he tooke upon him a voluntary poverty for especiall reasons belonging to the state of his humiliation, and to the dispensation of mans Redemption, 2 Corinth. 8.9. You will say, now Christs priesthood is consummate, and hee himselfe is in heaven, whither no tithes can bee sent; therefore none are due, because he hath no typicall priests in earth to re∣present him. I answer, though hee bee in heaven in his body, yet he is on earth in his ministery, and in the dis∣pensation of the vertue of his sacrifice; and the Mini∣sters of the Gospell are in his stead, 2 Cor. 5.20. and ought to bee received as Christ himselfe, Gal. 4.14. so then men are not by this excused from rendering Gods dues unto him; first, because there is in respect of him, whose sacrifice we commemorate and shew forth to the people, due a Testification of homage unto him; second∣ly, because in respect of us there is due a Reward of our la∣bour, for the labourer is worthy of his hire: to lay all together in one view, in as much as all the types of Christ, as a Priest, have received tithes as due, and in as much as that right was not grounded upon any thing in or from themselves, but upon their typicall office, and so did originally pertaine to the Principall Priest, whom they typified; and in as much as his person and office is eternall, and therefore such are all the annexa, and dues thereof; and in as much as he hath no where dispenced with, or denied, or refused, or revoked this right which from him as the principall all his types ever enjoyed: and lastly, in as much as hee hath left to the Ministers of Page 475 his Word, the dispensation of his sacrifice, and made them his Ambassadors, and in his stead to the Church, to set forth him crucified in his ordinances: for my part I doe not see why unto them in the name and right of their Master, those rights should not be due, which were manifestly his in his types, and of which himselfe hath no where in his Word declared any revocation.
But not to enter upon any disputes or unwelcome controversies, thus much I cannot by the way but ob∣serve, that these who labour in the word and doctrine, and therein are Ambassadours for Christ, and stand in his stead to reveale the mysteries, and dispence the treasures of his bloud in the Church, ought to have by way of ho∣mage to Christ, and by way of recompence and retribution to themselves a liberall maintenance, befit•••g the ho∣nor and dignity of that person whom they represent, and of that service wherein they minister: the Apostle saith, that they are worthy of double honour, an honour of reverence, and an honour of maintenance,* and doubt∣lesse the very heathen shall rise up in judgement against many who professe the truth in both these respects: for the heathen themselves did shew so much honour to their devillish priests, that I remember one of the Roman Consuls seeing a priest, and some Vestall virgins going on foot, and he riding on his chariot, descended, and would not goe into it againe, till those diabolicall Votaries were first placed, nay their very kings and emperours in Greece, Aegypt, Rome, &c.* thought it one of their grea∣test honours to bee withall the Priests for the people▪ amongst the Christians when the Synode of Nice was assembled by Constantines command, and some accusati∣ons, or (as the Historian calleth them) calumniations were presented to the emperour against some Bishops and Ministers, he looked not on the particulars,* but sea∣led them up with his owne signet, and having first re∣conciled the parties, commanded the libels to be burnt, Page 476 adding withall that if hee should himselfe see a bishop in adultery, hee would cover his nakednesse, with his owne roiall robe, because, saith he, the sinnes of such men ought not to bee divulged, lest their example doe as much hurt to the soules of others, as their fact to their owne:* for as a good life is necessary for themselves, so is their good fame necessary for others. The meaning of that noble Prince was not that such mens sins should go unexamined or exempted from punishment, but to shew both in how high honour they who are worthy in that function ought to be had for their workes sake, 1 Thes. 5.12, 13. and how wary men should be in giving liber∣tie to their tongues or distemper'd passions to censure, misreport, or scandalize the persons and parts of such men, again•• whom Timothy was not to receive an ac∣cusation without two or three witnesses, 1 Tim. 5.19. And to give notice of those ill consequences which would ensue upon the publike observation of the sinnes of those men, who in their doctrine preach the truth, and build up the Church: for doubtlesse of other men who preach lies in hypocrisie, there cannot too much of their secret villanies, and personall uncleannesse be dete∣cted, that so the lewdnesse of their lives may stop the progresse and growth of their evill doctrine.
But to returne to the point that I am upon, liberall maintenance is due to those that labour in the word and doctrine out of justice, and not out of mercy, for their workes sake. I will not presse the examples of heathen themselves in this duty for the shame of Christians.* We finde that the priests of Egypt had portions out of the kings owne treasuries, and that their lands were still re∣served unto them, Gen. 47.22. And wee finde besides these lands, that they had the third part of all yeerely tributes and levies,* as Diodorus Siculus tels us. But we will first looke upon the example of Gods owne Priests and Levites under the Law. Secondly, upon the pre∣cepts Page 477 and commands of the Gospell. God is not lesse mindefull of Ministers under the Gospell, than of those under the Law. Now then, if you will not beleeve that a liberall maintenance is now by God allotted unto us, looke what he did allot to them; first, looke upon the proportion of their persons, and then upon the propor∣tion of their maintenance: for their persons it would not be hard to prove that the Tribe of Levi,* though the thirteenth part of the people in regard of their civill di∣vision, were not yet the fortieth part of the people. Looke into the numbring of them, and compare Num. 1.46. with Numb. 3.39. The other Tribes were num∣bred from twentie yeeres old and upward, all that were able to beare armes, which was to the age of fifty yeeres, as Iosephus reports; for at that age they were supposed to be unserviceable for warre; and yet thus their num∣ber amounted to sixe hundred and three thousand five hundred and fiftie men able to goe to warre. The Le∣vites on the other side were numbred from one moneth old and upward, and yet the whole summe amounted but to twentie two thousand. Now conjecture the number of those in the other Tribes who were under twentie yeeres of age, and who were too old for warlike service to be but halfe as many as the rest, yet the whole number of the Tribes reckoned from their infancie up∣ward will amount at the least to nine hundred two thousand men. Of which number, the number of the Le∣vites is just the one and fortieth part. After we finde that they increased to a mightie number more, 1 Chron. 33.3. but the whole people increased accordingly, for the tribe of Judah which was before but seventie foure thousand, was then five hundred thousand, and in Ieho∣shaphats time eleven hundred thousand at least, 2 Sam. 24▪ 2 Chron. 7. well then, the Levites were but the for∣tieth part of the people (not so much) so that that Tribe was but almost a quarter as numerous as the rest. Now Page 478 looke in the next place to the Proportion of their main∣tenance. One would thinke that the fortieth part of the people could require but the fortieth part of the main∣tenance in proportion. But first they had the Tenth of all the increase of seed, and fruit, and great and small cat∣tell, Levit. 27.30. Secondly, they had fortie eight cities with suburbs for gardens and for cattell, Numb. 35.2. Which cities were next to the best, and in many tribes the best of all; in Iuda, Hebron, in Benjamin, Gibeon, both Roiall Cities; so that those Cities with about a mile suburb to every one of them can come to little lesse than the wealth of one tribe alone, in that little countrie, which from Dan to Beersheba was but about a hun∣dred and sixtie miles long. Thirdly, they had all the first fruits of cleane and uncleane beasts, Numb. 18.13. Of the fruits of the earth and the fleece of the sheepe, Deut. 18.4. Nehem. 10.35. of men to bee redeemed, Num. 18.15. Fourthly, the meate Offerings, the sinne offerings, the trespasse offerings, the heave offerings, and the wave offerings, were all theirs, Numb. 18.9, 10, 11. Fifthly, they had all vowes, and voluntary oblations, and conse∣crations, and every hallowed thing, Numb. 18.8, 9. Sixthly, excepting the Holocaust they had either the shoulder, or the breast, or the skinne, or something of every Sacrifice which was offered, Numb. 18.18. Lev. 7. Deut. 18.3. Seventhly, the males were to appeare three times a yeare before the Lord, and they were not to come empty handed, Exod. 23.15.17. Lastly, unto them did belong many recompences of injurie, which was the resti∣tution of the principall, and a fifth part, Num. 5.7, 8. Now put the Tithes, the Cities, and these other constant revenews together, and the Priests and Levites, who were but about a quarter as many as one tribe, had yet about three times the revenews of one tribe.
But to leave this Argument. Let us consider what the Apostle saith; let him that is taught in the word commu∣nicate Page 479 to him that teacheth, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in all his goods, as Beza well expounds it, Gal. 6.6. The elders that la∣bour in the word and Doctrine are worthy of double honor, for the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the oxe that treadeth out the corne, and the Labourer is worthy of his reward, 1 Tim. 5.17, 18. Who goeth a warfare at any time of his owne charges? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock and eateth not of the milke of the flock. Say I these things as a man (that is, am I partiall? doe I speake meerly out of affection, and humane favor to mine owne cause, or cal∣ling?) or, saith not the Law the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzle the mouth of the Oxe that treadeth out the corne. Doth God take care for Oxen? or saith hee it altogether for our sakes? That is, doth God provide Lawes for rewarding and encou∣raging the labor of brute beasts, and doth hee leave the maintenance and honor of his owne immediate officers to the arbitrary and pinching allowances of covetous and cruel men? For our sakes no doubt this is written, That hee that ploweth should plow in hope, and that hee that thre∣sheth in hope should bee partaker of his hope. That is, that the encouragement of the Ministers in their service might depend upon such a hope as is grounded on Gods Law and provision, and that they might not bee left to the wills and allowances of those men against whose sinnes they were sent. And this the Apostle proveth by an ar∣gument drawne from a most unanswerable equitie. If wee have sowen unto you spirituall things, is it a great thing if wee shall reape your carnall things? If you doe rightly judge of those heavenly treasures which wee bring in abundance unto you, impossible it is that you should judge our paines and service towards your immortall and pretious soules sufficiently rewarded with a narrow and hungry proportion of earthly and perishable things. Doe yee not know that they which minister about holy Page 480 things, live of the things of the Temple? And they which waite at the Altar are partakers with the Altar (to note that they receive their maintenance from the hand of God himselfe, whose onely the things of the Altar are, and not from men:) Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the Gospell should live by the Go∣spell, 1 Cor. 9.7-13. And what is it To live? First, They must love as men, they must have for necessity and for delight. Secondly, they must live as beleevers. Hee that provideth not for his owne is worse than an infidell, 1 Tim. 5.8. They must therefore have by the Gospell sufficient to lay up for those, whom the Law of common huma∣nity, much more of faith, commands them to provide for. Thirdly, they must live as Ministers. They must have wherewith to maintaine the Duties of their cal•ing, a good example of piety, and charity, and hospitality, that they may confirme by practice, what in Doctrine they teach, 1 Tim. 3.2. And the instruments of their calling, which in a profession of so vast and unlimited a compasse of learning, (for there is no part of learning in the whole circle thereof which is not helpfull and may not contribute to the understanding of Holy Scriptures, & to some part or other of a Divines imployment;) can∣not but bee very chargeable. And alas, how many men preach the Gospell, and yet can scarce finde the first and meanest of all these supplies? This is the great ingrati∣tude of the world, and withall the malice and policie of Satan, by the poverty and contempt of the Ministers, to bring the Gospell it selfe into contempt, and to deterre able men from adventuring on so unrewarded a calling, as Calvin justly complaines. All that can with colour or countenance bee pretended by those who are guilty of this neglect is Poverty and disability to maintaine the Gospell. And it were well if there were not places to be found wherein Dogs and Horses, hawks and hounds grow fat with Gods portion, and the mercenary Prea∣cher, Page 481 when he growes leane with want, is accused of too much studie. But suppose that povertie be truly alleaged:* Doe wee thinke poverty a just pretext for the neglect of a morall duty? may a man spend the Lords day on his shop-board because he is poore and wants means? And if I may not rob God of his time upon pretence of po∣vertie, neither then is the same any argument to rob him of his portion. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, name∣ly with pretence of poverty and necessity, as Calvin ex∣pounds that place, Gal. 6.7. S. Paul bears witnesse unto some men, that they did good beyond their power, that they were richly liberall though they were deeply poor, 2 Cor. 8.2, 3. And yet those were but contributions out of mercy, whereas double honor is due to the Ministers of the Gospell by a Law of Iustice. It is a wrong and foolish Apologie to pretend the punishment for the con∣tinuance of the fault. The poverty of many men is doubt∣lesse a just recompence for their neglect of the honor of the Gospell. (For God hath ever severely punished the contempt and dishonor done to his messengers, 2 Chron. 16.10.12. 2 Chron. 24.21-25. 2 Chron. 26.19, 20. 2 Chron. 36.16, 17.) Wheras on the other side, doe thou deale faithfully with God, fulfill to thy power his ap∣pointment and decree, that they which preach the Go∣spell may live by the Gospell, and then hearken unto God. Honor the Lord with thy substance and the first fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barnes bee filled with plenty, and thy presses burst out with new wine, Prov. 3.9, 10. Consider now from this day and upward, from the day that the foundation of the Lords Temple was laid con∣sider it. Is the seed yet in the barne? From this day I will blesse you, Hag. 2.18, 19. Yee are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring yee all the Tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove mee herewith saith the Lord of Hoasts (if you will not doe it out of duty, yet doe it out of Page 482 experiment) If I will not open you the windowes of heaven, and powre you out a blessing that there shall not be roome enough to receive it, Mal. 3.9-12. There was never any man lost by paying God his Dues, there was never any man thrived by grudging, or pittancing the Almighty. I will conclude this point with the Apostle. It is his Doctrine; faithfull Ministers are worthy of double honor. And it is his Exhortation; Render to all their Dues, Tri∣bute to whom Tribute, Custome to whom Custome, feare to whom feare, Honor to whom Honor, Rom. 13.3.
*Note lastly, The Priesthood of Christ is an everlasting Priesthood. Hee also was without Father, and without Mother, without beginning of dayes, or end of life. As man without a Father,* as God without a Mother, The same yesterday and to day, and for ever. His name was, Everlasting Father. His Gospell an Everlasting Gospell, He was a lamb slaine from the beginning of the world. The vertue of his bloud goes backward as high as Adam. He was foreordain'd before the foundation of the world,* 2 Tim. 1.9. The redemption of those that transgressed under the first Testament, the remission of sinnes that were past, were procured by this Sacrifice, Heb. 9.15. Rom. 3.25. It goeth downward to the end of the world, he must raigne till all be put under his feete, and he must raise up all by the power and vertue of his victory over death, Ioh. 5.26-29. And lastly, it goeth onward, to all immortality; for though the Acts and administration of his Priest-hood shall cease when hee shall have deli∣vered the Kingdome to his Father, and have brought the whole Church into Gods presence; yet the vertue and fruits of those Acts shall bee absolutely eternall, for so long as the Saints shall bee in heaven, so long they shall enjoy the benefit of that Sacrifice, which did purchase not a lease, or expiring terme, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an endlesse life, an everlasting glory, an inheritance, incorruptible & that fadeth not away, reserved in the heaven for them.